The Return of the River Merchant's Wife by Elliot Richman
The Saranac crashes on ancient rocks,
smooth and dark as the Glock’s barrel,
with its honey-colored larva to breed
death in my brain.
But my hand shakes too much.
I smell gun oil and lilacs,
the drying oils of paintings
I will not be compelled to complete.
Deep in the eddies of the river,
naked trout spawn millions of eggs
to be eaten by insects and weasels.
I close my eyes, attempting
in stupid Zen
to envision my own nothingness.
I manage to take everything
out of my mind --
except my mind --
when the River Merchant’s wife appears.
“Havin’ a nice day, hon?” she asks.
Fourteen hundred years of waiting
for the guy who never comes
has made her a tad ironic.
She takes the gun from my hand,
engages the safety,
and brings my palm to her check.
Her tears are real, just as the river
is real, just as her hair is the color
of the night river and the 9mm’s barrel.
“I will sleep with you one more time,”
she says again “Just one more time. No more,
I am not your death whore."
“I know my husband will understand
when I meet him at Cho-fu-Sa,
far from the river of swirling eddies.”
We make love, without
the passion of youth.
Yet, she still excites me,
tangled black hair,
upon my pillow,
breasts like a girl,
for she does not age
like me, the rest of us,
my teeth rotting,
my skin going limp,
just as my dick.
Still, unlike her husband,
I have avoided -- at least for now,
that river of swirling eddies.
When I awake,
I smell coffee,
and glazed muffins,
freshly baked from
the wood stove oven.
She is smoking a cigarette
and doing the Sudoku puzzle
in the local paper.
She does not bother to look
up at me.
© 2005-2009 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas