Imagining My Man

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Four

He dumps me at the start of the Aldous Harding show in Ashville. At the start. We have the whole show to get through and I’m exhausted from a three-day whirlwind of hiking trails with evocative names, Rattlesnake Lodge, Black Balsam Knob, Graveyard Fields, but it’s summer in the Blue Ridge Mountains and each trail was packed like queues to shows at summits, and he’s a slow hiker and I’m not. No, I fly, man, I move, my mother says I have the legs of a gazelle. So maybe this triggered some sort of inadequacy in him and his retaliation is to dump me at the concert I’ve been excited to see since we bought the tickets six months ago, excited, dying, desperate to see, since I first heard Harding’s album Party five years ago which is when we first met, especially the song “Imagining My Man” and her deep and high and raw and lovely voice, the rich and varied weirdness of her range, and I wanted to be her but also I already was her, imagining men my whole life. Now Aldous is singing and my boyfriend who recently became an ex is dancing in front of me in a clump of strangers and Aldous is singing “Fever,” a good jam on her latest album, and I’m burning holes into my ex’s back for being closer to Aldous, for trying to ruin this concert, for wounding me though that’s what first attracted me to him, maybe, his woundedness, the way his parents wounded him, the way he went around parading this wound, proud of it, or maybe I loved the way he wounded others with his words, his glances, his disapproval, the cut of it. I look at Aldous and she’s not just a phenom of ethereal talent, she’s beautiful, even handsome and—yes, that’s it, she looks like Adam Driver! The fucking moody Star Wars guy mooning bitterly across the galaxy and the horns kick in now but I’ve never actually seen Driver in a movie, I only know the poster from the Jarmusch film Paterson—Jarmusch, Gen X’s great film-making hope whose stuff I find boring which is maybe why I’ve never seen Paterson but I always liked the poster, Driver in bed snuggling with a woman and I don’t know her name off the top of my head, yes, internalized patriarchy blah ok. And now my ex is shuffling closer to the stage, the gall of this motherfucker, he doesn’t even like Aldous, he just wants to hurt me. Paterson used to make silk, I know that. And has some sort of connection, relation, presence, in poetry, in a long poem and Driver was a driver in that, the movie not the poem, a bus driver, and I’m standing in this room in Ashville listening to my angel Aldous sing but I’m also on Driver’s bus in Paterson and the streetlights are covered in silk and poets are slamming on corners, their imagery sparking up the night, and a Peruvian guy who just arrived in America is watching chickens turn in a rotisserie window wondering why he traveled all this way to be surrounded by so many Peruvians and a Turkish girl is pickling eggs at a card table and an old Italian woman is selling stinky Taleggio out of her purse and a sink hole opens in the street and we silk right into it and ribbon down, down, down, plummeting into this club in Ashville killing everyone, me, my ex, Aldous, Adam, but the music keeps going too somehow, echoing through the bloody wreckage of this bed we’ve made, of this show we’ve stopped, the wreckage of this life we tried to build, Aldous’s voice singing “all my life” and the sound of steel twisting and “love takes time” and concrete cracks, foundations shudder, and “I don’t have the wish to go back” and the leaking gas tank goes up in flames, its hiss and pop and roar the closing lines of this lullaby to the wreckages we’ve made of ourselves and each other and this world. 

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