ode to kay nielsen

Again, it's like this. I had a dream last night. You came to me in a letter, or a phone call, a message with your picture on the screen—I can't remember. Only, that you would be here sometime later and you wanted to meet. Above all others, you said, you wanted to see me. And so, first, I went back to the place where we first met. I went to the shop and walked behind the counter to see how things were looking. I was pleased somehow. Pleased perhaps that things had changed for me, while others swam in place, pleased that things were so similar in the shop, customers wearing the same coats and hats, young girls with brown braids and young men who felt out of this world, and were. I walked towards the door, to leave, but stopped. There were people waiting. They needed help. How could I pass, even if I was no longer employed? So I stopped, began to ring a woman's items, but she'd emptied her purse and I was scanning everything she'd laid on the counter. By the time I realized this I had quite the list. I turned to my left and J was there, judging me, in his way. So instead of asking him to cancel the ticket, I went back and deleted each item, one by one. And when she had thanked me, and me her, I turned to J, as we did, when everyone was gone, and it was just the two of us, and we were ready to confess. He said, A is in town. And I said, (I hesitated), I said, I know. I'm supposed to meet him tonight. Then J said, there he is now. And there you were. You came through the door of winter and afternoon and bright sunlight. You were wearing a heavy black jacket. Your wife looked exactly like she does in the picture. I walked back, as if I hadn't seen you, as if I could escape and never be seen. You came to the center of the store and everyone working was looking at you. Of course you were a god and we were your children. Except I was Mary Magdalene. And you were looking right at me with your well deep eyes and your wife was chatting with J and I felt like he was buying me time and I was overcome with love for him. You pressed your lips into the shape you always made and sort of opened up your face and pressed it forward—which makes no sense, but trust me, it's something you do. And then what happened? I can't remember quite, only that I left, that I made an excuse and fled, because I'd said something and your wife said something and we were laughing, sharing a joke, and I thought, oh, that is fucked up, now that is wrong. Affairs are what they are, but lies like that, lies like sharing something, a common feeling with your wife, well, that, that is something different; that is something worse. So I was out the door and in the apartment of a stranger and my dear friend was there. She'd just had her baby. She was ready to have a few glasses of wine. And so we did, with another friend of ours, a party girl. And we raised our glasses and I wanted to tell them everything, but they would say: but you're too old to still be doing that. They would say: do you learn anything? They would say: what about the other woman—you've been the other woman to a child—you've been awake at 4 a.m., looking out the window—smoking a cigarette and drinking champagne. And I would say: but we share something, something that people miss, miss by a millimeter, but we, we are like two arrows shot through the dark, from opposite sides of a field, and we hit, we can't miss, can never miss, even if we wanted to. And so the girls and I drink and the lovely, dear baby with her own baby now says she's tired and must go and I think: if I call you and tell you I can't see you, then I will have changed, and that will be that. She is getting up. I am waving goodbye, holding a question in my mind, looking for the best path to take and for you to be standing on it, always, no matter what.

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