February 5, 2014

Jodi Barnes

Take our marriage and replace it with blue cheese dressing,

the brand we like best and buy whether it's on sale or not. Surely there is another blue cheese dressing that is sold, possibly in San Francisco and made in a Berkeley basement by hippies who scrape together all of their change twice a year and buy cheese from an ancient sheep farm in France. This dressing is at least as good, maybe better than ours. I don't know. But I think it's unrealistic to say the delicious hippie sauce doesn't exist. And if it does, let's agree that you could very happily enjoy it with someone else. That I could be one of the hippies, still protesting nuclear weapons and more recently Styrofoam, long grey curly hair and flowy skirt, swaying to the beat of African drums as I label the dressings. That you and your wife come into the co-op and your index finger touches one of the labels, which is now slightly smeared. That you are downright joyful to have found your pungent dream manifest in a repurposed jelly jar. And instead of merely handing me the jars—your wife's eager to buy three—and reaching into your pocket to pull out an ample wallet without looking up, your blue eyes make a point to look into mine, naked and green as I wish to see the world, and for two moments we know that we could be happy together, maybe even happier than we ever thought possible, two hours from the east coast eating Marie's Premium Super Blue Cheese with the black plastic lid from Harris Teeter. 


Here's where you're wrong, she says but I hear hesitancy, a half-hearted conviction  and that always makes me want to run.

She's the most everything I've ever had in a woman, but if I told her she'd label me a misogynist or play coy as a teenager. You don't have me, she'd say while offering the who's-a-silly-boy smirk or she'd ask through lowered lashes, What do you mean, everything?

If I wanted cautious I wouldn't be here. She wouldn't either. Adultery is not for pussies. So I dive back into the conversation which has made my dick limp and ask where I'm wrong in our post-coital chatter and she says it doesn't matter anymore, that she doesn't want to argue.

I feel a burn, definitely irritation, maybe some betrayal. This brilliant, upper-east side, brick shit house of a lover can't discern between discussion and argument? No really, I say, I want to know where you think I'm wrong. And I lean in, kiss her cheekbone, place the hollow of my cheek against it, breathe in her hair.

She rolls off my shoulder and away to the edge of the bed like a tightly rolled tapestry, leaving tiny threads of me on the bedspread. She hums some ridiculously tired pop shit and smiles at early afternoon light that leaks through a window. She is haloed; woven around every muscle, breasts, shoulders and toes a soft gold. As she turns on the shower, I can't get dressed quickly enough.


Jodi Barnes’ writing can be found in Prime Number, 100 Word Story, Wigleaf’s Top 50 and many other fine places. Her first chapbook, unsettled (Main Street Rag, Author's Choice Series), was runner-up in the 2010 Oscar Arnold Young Contest for best poetry book in North Carolina. She founded 14 Words for Love, literary activism for positive social change.

1 comment:

S.E.Ingraham said...

Very nice couple of short short bits
and both so different from each other. Writing from the perspective of a different gender is fascinating Jodi...really well done.