Date Prep

MAG­GIE BUR­TON

Room Magazine - - BURTON -

Pre­lude i. bath­room (floor)

I was scrub­bing mold off the bot­tom edge of the tub, that place where caulk­ing meets tile meets the tub’s body, sweat was pool­ing in the creases of my neck fat, then sud­denly,

my hands slipped on the wet floor, my chin hit the top lip of the tub.

Ly­ing still on the floor, bit­ten tongue lolling for­ward to wash the front of just-brushed teeth in blood, when I saw you there with me:

a tuft— grey, oval, light and fluffy, down grac­ing a gosling’s head, a part of you, of your belly but­ton, of me, un­dress­ing you on our last date.

The lint tuft ap­peared out of nowhere, rest­ing mo­tion­less on the bath­room floor in the days since your last visit.

I watched for a while un­til some­one not me blew you away.

ii. bath­room (tub)

My tub fi­nally clean, I climbed into the murky wa­ter, sluic­ing my armpits in the yel­lowed wa­ter­colours of Hur­ri­cane Matthew,

his Oc­to­ber visit a warn­ing to any that dared soak their bod­ies so soon af­ter weath­er­ing the storm.

My pruned hands scooped the brothy wa­ter over my cheeks, the wrin­kles giv­ing me a bet­ter grip on my skin— I was ready

for real grass to start grow­ing out of the drain be­tween sighs of the stream of wa­ter, the pump wak­ing up to sed­i­ment to seeds

ger­mi­nat­ing in rust, cough­ing up a lung all morn­ing long. The cop­per claws of the tub feet be­came a cow’s tasty heel,

the drain be­came my mouth, sip­ping foot soup. iii. kitchen (pantry)

My gar­lic had grown too tall, their lit­tle green tips pok­ing out like the ex­cited pe­nis of a shaggy tan ter­rier.

My pota­toes were sprout­ing ex­tra limbs, and hon­estly, my onions were pick­ling them­selves— at ease with the way they smelled.

I filled the slow cooker with these old in­gre­di­ents curs­ing the flavour­less top­pings on such a fresh cut of beef.

The tummy-rum­bling an­tic­i­pa­tion of din­ner hav­ing it­self ready when we were was too much for me to bear

so I made break­fast alone: av­o­cado toast, dec­o­rated with chia seeds, tiny flecks of ob­sid­ian on emer­ald jew­els you would never con­sent to eat­ing.

Is this why you left? iii. liv­ing room (couch)

The couch cush­ions bore wa­ter marks, spread­ing down­ward from where you lay your hair, wet, af­ter we walked back from the down­town rain that time.

My toes find the un­der­side of my couch’s body. I rub them along the er­ratic teeth of sta­ples that some­one lov­ingly

tapped in, one layer over another.

It prob­a­bly took years of some up­hol­sterer de­sign­ing crosshatches, dashes, pos­i­tive signs

only to catch in the frayed translu­cent apron, rip­ping open the spa­ces be­tween the old wood slats and seal­ing them up again, the spent shards

of ma­te­rial fall­ing sound­lessly, as if a kit­ten was some­how in­volved.

iv. liv­ing room (floor)

I con­jure up the one or­gasm I will have tonight. When I open my eyes, I am kneel­ing be­hind the couch—dust bun­nies, peanut shells, candy wrap­pers, loose change, the dirt of other days gath­er­ing it­self into a magic circle around me.

With­out some­one to cut a door in the side to get out, with­out some­one to free the circle, here I stay,

lest I break the spell. Date i. closet (rack)

I change into a re­veal­ing piece of my­self. Hair swoop­ing back over my fore­head show­ing just the right amount of scalp, a pri­vate place. My closet is quiet. It is mine, lost in time. But my lace-wrapped tits, my fin­gers fan­ning out—plea­sure is yours, im­mi­nent.

Watch the things I can do with my legs.

Some­times my arms bend back that’s right,

I like that kind of me­dia.

ii. bed­room (bed)

My toes find the cor­ners of my bed that are with­out any blan­kets to suf­fo­cate them.

Re­mem­ber­ing the fric­tion of my head on the board helps me main­tain a steady pulse.

I count to ten, over and over, working on de­liv­er­ing an op­ti­mal per­for­mance.

I men­tally prac­tice my vi­o­lin, vi­su­al­iz­ing the strug­gle to dis­guise the stal­e­ness of the tinny open E string.

I im­i­tate Heifetz, I try to match his vi­brato to the cur­rent mood, fail. My hands con­trol­ling noth­ing ex­cept the space

be­tween us.

You know I hate when things touch my face.

iii. bed­room (floor)

It is cold down here. Why am I al­ways the only one who is naked, and I mean com­pletely naked—no T-shirt hauled up un­der my chin to keep it clear of bod­ily flu­ids; no socks with holes in them rolled up to pro­tect my bony an­kles from get­ting twisted; no big toes ges­tur­ing outside of their socks, wait­ing for a new hid­ing place. No, that is not me. I am Chris Pratt’s Donna, the sock lines per­ma­nently etched into my legs. I am magic. I am or­phan Sara Crewe, wail­ing in the circle of her own imag­in­ing in the at­tic, curs­ing her magic around her for let­ting a bad thing in. I am magic. I am Laura Palmer in a smooth vel­vet room lis­ten­ing to per­fect jazz, about to fuck Agent Cooper, if I could just stop be­ing dead for a sec­ond. I am magic. I am Susie Salmon, like the fish, about to make love as a ghost. I am magic.

I dropped my pants on my floor and the linoleum ate them up. I dropped my head, too; watched it roll un­der my bed. Now, I can see you from un­der here, one foot about to drop onto my cheek. I roll my eyes at the spec­ta­cle of life. I al­ways knew you were rough but re­mem­ber when I was del­i­cate. I am magic I am magic I am magic I am magic I am.

iv. guest room (bed)

You’ve moved in, so fast

(Don’t Worry I Didn’t Even No­tice –)

my bed spread with your body

watch­ing— (it’s okay it wasn’t a Big Deal—) while I re­dress across the hall.

You tuck in for the night, I tuck you in. Postlude i. liv­ing room (rock­ing chair)

I re­mem­ber watch­ing KinK as a kid, think­ing how ex­cit­ing to be strung from the ceil­ing in cel­lo­phane—

I want my skin pro­tected in plas­tic bags, held to­gether with twist ties,

I want my heart wrapped in wax pa­per, laid out on a Sty­ro­foam tray in the cor­ner store, its pack­ag­ing date clear,

I want a pla­centa one day, wait­ing in the freezer, wait­ing for the right mound of earth to come along to bury it in,

I want my liver bot­tled along­side moose I kill my­self.

ii. kitchen (counter) Our sup­per un­eaten, cold, on the counter.

I open a new can of peanuts, the can my mouth peeled open as if we could laugh at any time.

iii. closet (door)

I shut the closet door, hang­ing up my pur­ple silk robe, hear it catch on the wall­pa­per, its flow­ers scratched to bits from that time Fluffy got stuck in there, or so the real estate agent told me.

When I moved into my house

I threw out all that was left: a taran­tula, its cage, in the spare room, a gi­ant Chucky doll in the hall­way, porce­lain fig­urines—uni­corns, mostly,

a list of all the emer­gency numbers tacked in­side the closet door. I wouldn’t need them.

iv. bath­room (sink) What will hap­pen if you stay?

I wipe the tooth­paste off my mouth, the cor­ners crack­ing in the sea­son’s tran­si­tion,

I hear you snor­ing through the wall—what if the sound makes the sink tear loose, the caulk­ing break away, the tub over­flow, the toi­let back up— could I stop it if I wanted to?

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