He never believed the things that either of them said,
the things that either of them had said. He never believed
a promise. From the start, that’s all he’d promised.
He dressed in white while she served tea.
Along the sole of his shoe he had written
the words do not choose to be a victim.
He made her read them.
She grew purple flowers up their brick walls
while he collected books and scribbled words
about her and other men and leather shoes.
In the stories, the sea always saved the day.
She sometimes wrote on paper,
each sheet she crumpled and ate,
swallowing, filling her belly,
big and bloated, a pregnancy
that would never ever end.
Photographs and plant pots packed in parcels.
Dirt thrown on caskets, ashes into fire.
Books, her books, left in hotel rooms.
Like a family, they went west.
He left her in the middle.
Her middle still swollen.
Half his bootprint on her cheek.
No one can be expected to pay for sins forever.
He ran through sand of a dry brown ocean,
diving in, memorizing it all to write on a postcard,
sending it to her, ending it for her, setting himself free.
Christine Brandel is a writer and photographer. In 2013, she published the chapbook, Tell This To Girls: The Panic Annie Poems, which the IndieReader described as a “well-crafted, heartbreakingly vivid set of poems, well worth a read by anyone whose heart can bear it.” To balance that, she also writes a column on comedy for PopMatters and rights the world’s wrongs via her character Agatha Whitt-Wellington (Miss) at Everyone Needs An Algonquin. More of her work can be found at clbwrites.com.