I wasn’t saying anything.
I was thinking how last night my wife screamed in her sleep
I’m sorry I ever married you.
When I shook her awake, she said, Not you,
Alfred. Who the hell is Alfred? I asked.
Obviously the wrong tack.
I already knew about the drummer
she always made me feel sexually inferior to
even when I broke the good china
and climbed on the roof naked
and painted a very crude swordfish on the bedroom wall.
He was sort of famous or at least
in a sort of famous band
so I got all their CDs
and I couldn’t hear any drumming
I guess he was that good.
I felt like a radiator had landed on me.
Birds started talking to me and not out of friendliness.
Even when they asked directions, it was hostile.
I’d spend nine hours in the grocery store
and look down in my cart and there’s nothing
but some rundown kohlrabi.
Don’t say a thing, I’d say to the kohlrabi.
Suddenly I couldn’t catch my breath,
pain shot through me like a jellyfish thrown in a fan.
Whoever was on the other side of the door started turning the knob.
The doctor burst in and kept his back to me,
just stood there shaking and sobbing
while I sat on the table in a tissue wrapper
trying to fill the world with light.
Dean Young's most recent book is Fall Higher.