She is a lovely mermaid; he is Poseidon. They are still young.
Salt water heals wounds, so they bathe together during low tide for hours on end.
They are sensitive to all things of consequence. Images become
clearer in their dreams, only to fade into phantoms, like the shroud of Turin.
They can’t remember the details, of all they meant to say.
She dreams of living inside a Maxfield Parrish, with gold-rimmed clouds and
luminous skies of iridescent blue, the color of Chinese porcelain, of tinted glass.
It’s the color that makes her happiest.
Exploding grenades. He was trained to deny love. You can’t kill another human being while believing in it. Now he lives with PTSD. She gives him renewed hope, nurses his spirit with the droplets of a slow and gradual baptism, a baptism of an ancient love.
If it is not solid, if it doesn’t fit into the palm of her hand, it will float out of the
atmosphere and disappear into empty space. That has always been her fear.
She keeps her nails long, and they click against cups and scratch his flesh,
giving him shivers. She wears blue polish. She uses yellow rubber
gloves to wash the dishes.
He can’t write without a delete button. Permanence never suited him.
The Earth’s crust is tattooed with etchings, the stories of loss and extinction.
Her stories will become etched in sunspots and wrinkles–his in a receding hairline.
The cruelty of sprinkling acid on fire ants nags at her–and yet she knows they can be deadly. She marvels that something that can cure athlete’s foot
also slows the rate of fission. She believes their love is a lot like that.
Alcohol is the oldest recreation known to man, even Neolithic people drank spirits. Residue was found on 9,000 year-old pottery in China. How can she argue with that?
Scientific evidence supports his cause.
They cling to each other after death visits. Though his drinking gets in the way.
But how can she deny him those sips of comfort, those sips of redemption,
those sips of forgetting pain.
They are protected from ultraviolet rays. The atmosphere is inviting,
as he watches her belly grow. They bask in the Florida sun and
their extended family becomes tolerable. They discuss moving to Kansas.
The sea is rich, and so they continue their bathing ritual at low tide, and
she buys iodized salt. Most anything can be purchased fortified.
In the highest altitudes of the Alps, live the “arsenic eaters of Styria”
who believe the poison gives them strength. Arsenic is homeopathic.
There’s a risk to cures, there’s a risk in loving someone too much.
When they first met, he had a moustache, a beard, and
abundant dark chest hair. She loved to twirl it around her fingers.
He was a man, she felt like a little girl.
He tells her that he wants to jump out of a plane on his 50th birthday.
Parachuting, parasailing, hot air balloons. Air travel will get him nowhere.
She knows what he wants is elusive.
Their wedding bands are inscribed with the date of their anniversary,
lest they forget that day. Forget the years joining like molecules,
into formulas of strange and magnificent creations.
Formulaic Love Story was published in Words Dance in 2013 and the “Science” Issue of Eye to the Telescope in 2014.