Waiting for This Story to End Before I Begin Another
–Jan Heller LeviAll my stories are about being left,all yours about leaving. So we should have known.Should have known to leave well enough alone;we knew, and we didn’t. You said let’s putour cards on the table, your cardwas your body, the table my bed, where we didn’tget till 4 am, so tired from wantingwhat we shouldn’t that when we finally found our heads,we’d lost our minds. Love, I wanted to call youso fast. But so slow you could taste eachletter licked into your particular and rose-like ear.L, love, for let’s wait. O, for oh no, let’s not. Vfor the precious v between your deep breasts(and the virtue of your fingersin the voluptuous center of me.)Okay, E for enough.Dawn broke, or shattered. Once we’ve madethe promises, it’s hard to add the prefix if. . . .But not so wrong to try.That means taking a lot of walks,which neither of us is good at,for different reasons, and nights up till 2arguing whose reasons are better.Time and numbers count a lot in this. 13years my marriage. 5 years you my friend.4th of July weekend when something that beginsin mist, by mistake (whose?), means too muchhas to end. I think we need an abacus to get our loveon course, and one of us to oil the shining rodsso we can keep the crazy beads clicking,clicking. It wasn’t a questionof a perfect fit. Theoretically,it should be enough to say I left a manfor a woman (90% of the world is contentto leave it at that. Oh, lazy world) and when the womanlost her nerve, I leftfor greater concerns: when words like autonomywere useful, I used them, I confess. So I getwhat I deserve: a studio apartment he paid the rent on;bookshelves up to the ceiling she drovethe screws for. And a skylight I sleep alonebeneath, and two shiny quarters in my pocketto call one, then the other, or to call onetwice. Once, twice, I threatened to leave him—remember? Now that I’ve done it, he sayshe doesn’t. I’m in a phonebooth at the corner of Bankand Greenwich; not a booth, exactly,but two sheets of glass to shiver between.This is called being street-smart: dialinga number that you know won’t be answered,but the message you leave leaves proof that you tried.And this, my two dearly beloveds, is this calledhedging your bets? I fish out my othercoin, turn it over in my fingers, pressit into the slot. Hold it there. Let it drop.