My mouth waters at your obsolescence. As soon as I find you, you’re gone again, these days, like food, or egrets. Thinking of you on this many splendored sieve of the salt flats, as it were. The salt flats being simply flats. Okay flat. One, weathered with our reflection.
You would like this cup I found among the old wares. You would. It’s a delicate cup. Porcelain. Engraved with hologrammatic lilacs. You’d fill it. Probably share it with Attaline. Linny. Linny linny line eyes, your principessa.
Our letters too. Dug those up. There’s no sex in them. They were just longing, you could say.
It wasn’t as if you and I were separated by war. LOL. JK.
A sea between us, pouring. Different water. Different cups.
Linny likes the red plastic. Poor kid.
Those were bought from a thin sweaty woman who lived in a huge house by the sea. She was only a servant, she told me. Stuck clearing all this expensive debris.
She offered up free shoes. Studded with plastic gems. You better believe I took them.
Linny Linny Line Eyes tends to like the good stuff. It’s called self-esteem.
If you keep evaporating, how will I address this? Don’t trouble yourself with an answer. I’ve long loved a long-lived ink!
I hid the letters and ugly cups, I did. It was a chance at preserves. Piled it all in a box, the swarming cups so fecund and light drenched, if you turned your face, they might’ve bloomed a paltry soup from nothing but water.
The old silverware went in the box too. Then the box into a hole. It must’ve been a deep one. I was in a state. There’s nothing wrong with a search, I told Linny. It builds character. By then it was years later. She didn’t think to agree.
In the days of Ovaltine and scratch offs, I won one, did I ever tell you? The prize was an archery set. My mother implored me not to use my penny to scrape more silver film off the card, but when she turned around, I scraped like the wind.
I hit the target in losing the bow and arrow. Mom didn’t see it then.
How joyous to remove a film. That’s what you’d say. As if in a movie no one’s ever seen.
You might as well be a marionette. For how delicately you speak through my mouth.
The tables I’ve set in my mind for you. We’d talk about the tree canopy. Use words like asunder. I might confess I can’t get Calvino’s description of Medusa out of my head. How loving Perseus was to tend his monster’s undead head, how light!
He rested her fearsome gaze on softest seagrass. Her downturned stare froze what drifted with the fish. The plants stiffened to corals, adornments for disregarded goddesses. The jewels caked her unceasing face until the lesser deities plucked them like stubborn tears. Cut them so they glittered. Strung themselves up shining and pleased. Her eyes stayed down the whole time.
These excavations disturb Linny. The box in its fog scares her when she finally smacks it with her digging spoon. Adamance scrunches her cheeks as if they’re stuffed with dill, eyes lined with a soft cloud.
She ignores the letters. But forks the ground. Sips from the cup. All of this is to make room. She misses you as terribly as I do.
Calvino said this better. But I thought you should know, adornments of invertebrate exoskeletons, tabulate, grooved, are sparkling with onceness. For you.
We’ve barely had to be slain to make them. In fact, we’re thriving. Linny can climb right in the box now. She hides chocolates from untold locations in the layers of satin batting. It’s what any child would do.
But isn’t our Linny different? I’ve always wanted to believe so. She shimmies on in, marking the earth around her with plundered caps. From what worlds, I fail to ask. She doesn’t seal herself in. Spares herself a crack. Sings like the begging call of a white throated sparrow to her roots, which sink themselves beneath her indistinguishably. To emerge, which she always does, she clips the snaking tendrils. Tedious, our severings.
I’ve enclosed a cup, so you feel less alone. We toast you from the great belly of our glasses, cheering you out there in the consummate resplendence you’ve perfected in your retreat. It isn’t an extraordinary cup, but it has a hole. You have that in common, you perfect empty globes.
How I would fold myself in if I fit.
Not a Naiad. Xox
Jess Richardson is the author of the short story collection, It Had Been Planned and There Were Guides, which won the FC2 Ronald Sukenick Prize and was longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award. Stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Commuter at Electric Lit, Evergreen, Gulf Coast, and Slice among other places. More work can be found at www.jessicaleerichardson.com and intermittent shares may be spotted at @jleerichardson, @jessica.richardson17, and https://jessrichardson.substack.com.