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  • Baucis and Philemon, and: The Event Horizon, and: Melancholia; a Fantasy, and: A Marriage Poem, and: The Distance Between the House and the Barn
  • Sarah Blackman (bio)
  • Baucis and Philemon
  • Sarah Blackman

When invited to dream all the possible endingsof their story, they asked to be entwined.I wake to premorning in a hot, wet tangle.I had thought your elbow pressed against my templewas the thin bowl of your forehead, that you dreamedyour brain closer to mine, rocked into my convexities.Now that I know it is your elbow,I think our nights are dangerous. One traumatic dream—like the one you have where you are weepingin the wreckage of a nest, shells strewnaround you and your hands slick with afterbirth—and that elbow could mallet into my brainpan.At the best a bad bruise seeping into my eye socketlike spreading ink. At worst . . . People diein the strangest ways. A friend of a friendcrushed his larynx on the edge of the open dishwasher.One of my mother's lovers was buriedwhen an airport collapsed in Tehran.When Baucis began to leaf and Philemonreached out to her, did he already knowthey were in this together? Or was he thinking,What now? Was he thinking, What does this look mean?as the bark lipped her silent and her eyes ambered,a tincture of stilled sap. I am going to tell you something,but first you have to come closer.First you have to put your lips against mine,anticipate a little. You have to lead.My mother kept a velvet satchel filled with beadsall the years of her marriage. She had it with herin Tehran when she hid under a tableand listened to the ceiling lamps crashing around herlike jubilant meteorites entering the atmosphere.Now I have that purse and at least one of the peoplewho fingered its navy fringe was pressedbeneath an unbearable weight. In the premorningwhen I recognize your elbow [End Page 30] I am first angry, then afraid, then ambivalent.If you are going to kill me, why shouldn't it be like this?A story like a leaf stripped from the green limband pressed between the pages of a heavy book.A story as irredeemable as an artifact,as unforgiving as a foolish wish,made in haste, repented of at terrible leisure. [End Page 31]

  • The Event Horizon
  • Sarah Blackman

I am making a pesto from * mustard greens and garlic * My mother calls * I add a fourth of a cup of pecans * My mother wants to know * how things are and I * in a moment of inattention * spill olive oil on the new tile floor * There is a time of panic * On her end, it is the result of the silence * that has greeted her use * of the word "things" * She is imagining something terrible * She is seeing again the cicatrix * of burns ringing my wrist * On my end, oil is seeping into the grout * This is precisely the kind of stain * we had hoped to forever avoid * It speaks of imprecision * It utters loudly * waste * and will utter * waste * for the rest of our lives * together, yours and mine * Our time spent considering a stain * while my mother waits * holding her breath * to hear that * after all this * things are fine [End Page 32]

  • Melancholia; a Fantasy
  • Sarah Blackman

Somewhat famously I had a long and happy marriage.He was a poet and I kept a garden blooming,spears of Mexican lavender, walkways carpeted with mint.One thing led to another and he died.I cannot describe the shape the house takeswithout him in it. It is something like a boat,empty, hitched to the dock by a fraying line.It is something like if that boat had a crab-pottucked under one of the plank seats,forgotten last season by a man who fishes for the senseof the deep cold space beneath him. I can almost see him—the falling sun wicking though his hair,his thighs tense against the boat's gentle yaw.Without my husband the house becomes more referential.Each...


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