After the Long Dry Spell, New Dress
Last summer I rediscovered wild flowers.
Alfalfa, butter ‘n eggs, milkweed, clovers of
all sizes and sweetness, many spontaneous
bouquets dropped petals on my table.
All those years of drought and concrete.
This year I am the bud. I remember my love
of swirly skirts, the kind when you twirl
flows out from your waist. Old-fashioned,
Fairy clothing. I always used to garden
in embroidered cotton dresses, comfortable
through heat waves and washable.
Long ago my lover would gift
me flowers, more fragrances, the better.
She would slide her hands up my calf’s silk,
tease dresses’ hem, my thighs
when I was lying in our hammock
beneath blue spruce, sipping champagne,
There was always celebration;
a slender stem, a woman’s
leg, the sculpting fingers of a lover defining it,
firefly-lit dusk. White skirts glow
in the dark. Opening petals of some
=Rachael Z, Ikins (Appears in her book “Just Two Girls“)
I Hear a Robin Sing
I can’t see anything. I grab at twisted nightgown wrapped around my neck, over my face.
“You want to fuck? I ‘ll fuck you!” She shoves me toward the bed. It is high, a new style mattress. Catches the small of my back. I gasp for air, fingernails snap on fabric. I hear it rip as her knee forces
my thighs apart. I am crying.
“NO! NO! ” my voice cracks. Our bedroom window open, it is spring. A thought flies through my head, can neighbors hear? She always worries what they think. She sees herself: perfectly coiffed, manicured, made-up, a creased-pants example of the-only-way-to-be. If they do hear us, it will be my fault. It is warm outside, light, evening air scented with the lilac hedge alongside our house. I hear a robin sing. I used to love to ride my bike after supper when I was a kid, this kind of evening.
I kept the nightie over ten years. Its faded pink and lavender fabric rips in two, now a rag. I heave my hips, slap at her. She punches one sharp-tipped hand inside me. I’m still screaming NO NO NO. Somehow I slide out from under her.
“Get the fuck away from me!” I’m the attacker? She will be sure of it later. I stagger to the bathroom. Shield my breasts one-handed, throw the door lock. Sometimes she tackles doors. They explode open. Other times she slams them, pictures on both sides of walls fall, glass breaks.
I put my hand between my legs to see, is there blood? I sink to the cool tiled floor. I hold a scrap of nightie to my face. Blot my tears. I hear the television—Access Hollywood. My little dog snuffles along the door-crack. I want to let him in. I can’t move yet. He thumps his body down on the other side to wait. One day soon I will leash him and his sister, stuff cat in carrier, throw my medications and important legal papers in my computer bag, grab purse and cell phone, we will leave.
We will stay with friends while I find us an apartment. I will sign divorce papers and explain to my passionate young attorney that I do not care what I am entitled to, I will no longer fight her for anything at all, not even a dollar bill. We will move into our new place end of July. Helpers will leave us, four survivors afloat, a sea of cardboard. A friend and daughter will bring me a plate of chocolate chip cookies tied with a turquoise and orange bow. ” Happy Home Coming.”
It will take me two years to stop flinching when I hear neighbors on the stairway, to stop expecting the locked security door to blast open. It will take me two years to decide to write about it, to walk naked from bathroom to bedroom. She will have stalked me from the back seat, her friends’ Lincoln, searching the parking lot while I stood right there in broad daylight with my dogs. She will knock on my door, winter. Not knowing who it is, I will open. The dogs will
attack her legs. She will thrust my painting and a box of small treasures into my hands. Spin away, dash downstairs into the snow. I learn to be in charge of the lock. There is a huge difference to a life where you are in charge. Today I will walk the dogs into fresh spring air. Starlings chortle from poplar budded branches.
Epilogue: one day I see her on a metal bench outside Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Without my glasses I recognize the crease in the woman’s sneaker socks I enter the store, make my purchase, leave the doors at an angle that prevents me from seeing the bench again. I shake my head. She is just a white-haired old woman, bouncing one leg. No longer dyes her hair. I drive away into my freedom.
-Rachael Z. Ikins (Appeared in the Canadian Journal S/tick, dontdiepress)