For God’s Sake, Forgive Your Mother

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For God's Sake, Forgive Your Mother by Darcey Steinke

In the taxi, on the way in from the airport, objects moving at her
through the windshield had the ability to harm. The green shamrocks

painted on the diner window, the Angelina billboard. She could handle
artifice, third-rate holidays, giant stylized breasts. It was the
everyday objects that hurt, the pay phones, the mailboxes, the 7-Eleven in
the strip mall. Fuck them. Fuck the purple bougainvillea twining around
the metal fence. She would put each blossom inside her mouth and chew.
Fuck flowers. Fuck the moon, the stars. She hated the blue awning on a
place called Communication Station. She hated anything that reminded her
of that lovely internal configuration created by sex.


In the hotel room, absolutely everything a dull pink, she got out the
tiny bottles of bourbon from the mini bar. Closing the curtains partway,
she lay out over the bed. Planes, no bigger then floaters in the corners
of her eye, moved across the column of sky between the drapes. She
thought of the people on the planes reduced to dust motes, the middle-
aged lady in the woolen suit. The new mother, her baby’s head tucked
inside her shirt; the two of them smelling like sugary milk left over
after cereal. Without an armature, her desire moved around the woods
flinging a nightgown onto bushes, saplings, brambles. Spread over the
arching branches of a thicket, the white material looked best. She

thought of the last letter she sent him, each word like a day when it
rained and she made soup and put on an extra sweater to warm herself.


Then she thought about the last time. How his room was slightly
arrogant, with the fireplace, the leather reading chair, the strange
print of a dock scene done in neon colors. It was a room from her
parallel childhood, one her brother would have inhabited if she’d been a
banker’s daughter instead of a minister’s. She walked over to look at the
picture and he had come up behind her exactly as he had in the dream the
night before. Turning her around, he kissed her first on the lips and
then below the ear. She moved her hand up under his shirt, her palm
resting on the slope of his back. Then came the whole economic system of
skin against skin. Lips first, the nerves sending subtle charges down her
chest out into her limbs. A sort of possession began, desire manifesting
first in the touch of his fingertips and then in the proximity of big
swatches of warm skin. Her favorite landmark: the moment before all hell
broke loose, when he took off his glasses and set them carefully on the
nightstand beside the bed.


All this was still pleasant to recount. The figurative confabulations
were what pained her, the forms they had created in space. His body
hanging over her, cock in her mouth, her finger up inside him. Her tongue
ringing around that clenched circle of skin. Somewhere inside of him,

there was an ancient Chinese city governed by a boy who was constantly
fighting back death. Paper lanterns hung in the courtyard, brightest at
twilight. There was a city inside of her too, but more like Baltimore
than Peking. Vacant storefronts and a fat lady living over a convenience
shop. She was anxious to fuck. And the fucking was very nice, especially
the part when they were standing against the wall, she up on her tiptoes, him behind her, and then that moment he leaned over and kissed
along the raised vertebrae of her spine.


The hole opened up. For a while she sated it with Caesar salads but then
it demanded books of poetry in blank verse. She understood after a time
that it would only be satisfied with sex soup. One wet pussy. One hard
cock. And a bottle of black nail polish. But that recipe just made the
longing worse, elemental to her now as the fallen light at the window, as
the feel of her own palm against the bones in her hip.


Had she mentioned that the bed was king size? That its scale in
proportion to her body was making her sick? And you should always think
twice before slipping out of your skin. You hope it will be this great
event, that congress will fill with democrats, that glamour will be
unmasked as the fraud she really is. But in the end it’s so hard working
with people, you want them all to like you and be happy but you get
caught up in their frailties, and sometimes you can’t help becoming a
conspirator in their gloomy conception of original sin.

Darcey Steinke