The One Secret That Has Carried
Irene loves a man who is afraid of sex-- she's attended to everything, said it was okay, held me until I slept. She says, Why don't you just not think about it? But I want to know every sensation, nothing untouched, though I pull my hand away once she's found it I can't be around a woman too long, too much. I say, I was mistreated. She says, A cup of tea? I say, I can't start a thing and then describe the kind of thing I'd start. We talk about ballrooms, long sleeves and sashes, say someday we should go somewhere though we can't think of anywhere and then I say abruptly, I've never loved hard enough to be loved back. I say it as if I've had enough of the whole goddamn world and will never be satisfied. I'm looking at the wall. She's looking out the window because she needs to be somewhere. Later, I leave a note: Sorry for the difficulties. Meaning: how come you don't leave? I've never told this story. Even at the moment of dying, I would say it was someone else's.
Copyright © 2001 by Jason Shinder. Reprinted from Among Women with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.