She wore purple. like she really knew what she was insinuating, but she didn’t say that this was the color. Poor Linda is going to have another baby she continued, but you’ll never know it in half a year again, to see her, so young. He sat listening. Sometimes he weakly offered worn observations, mumbling in his throat, afraid to open his mouth for what might fall out. His eyes wandered, in vain cutting worming possibilties. Unaware of a little boy within his skin, its body withdrawn into a smaller mass and almost dying. She had her mouth around its heart. He only dully knew of it by the things he couldn’t do, the way it just comes, like vomit, oatmeal rising into his brain. A person, she said, has got to expect things like people dying that you love that you can’t do anything about, without rolling over on your back and let the whole world fuck you dead. Like a stodgy novel, and she was chainsmoking her words, nervous pages sleeping on a dusty shelf in some used book store in which the day was yawning her life of suffering and others’ problems, for things must necessarily be obscured. But that’s neither here nor there, she said, with a cigarette butt, doing it for him, wanting to make it last.

March 1972