no great heights

by erika

From where I sit, with my French lace curtains placed just right, I can see only tree tops and sky. I see the corner of my deck and can imagine it a balcony that a moon would like to visit, a suitor, wild-eyed and wanton, come only for me. Since I cannot write truth these days, I will write fiction. I am happy. I am whole.

I can also write the story of what isn’t happening–he isn’t asleep in the bed in the other room, dreaming of me as I did him this morning. No, he has erased me from his day to day and his through the night. (it’s better this way, he tells himself) Under the white-powdered smears you can see the alabaster bones of our story: table 21, garden shovel, son– but the rest, ghosts. ghosts and lies.

This is not the story of the boy in the garden,  some other love god pouring sonnets into his head. The boy has gone mute and the clouds have rolled in and masked the moon. The wise sage with the words moved to Panama and now writes his poems on cocktail napkins, tucks them under sweaty glasses of rum that only the drunkest notice,  immediately to forget.

This is not the story of the play I rehearse daily that has no room for me, a few bows and curtsies, but no real flesh and bone. I am not Roxanne, Cyrano neither. I am perhaps one of the drunken poets, feasting on baked lyres and lies. Yes, Fraudulent Poet #2, that sounds about right. There are no small parts, only parts that make you feel smaller.

This is the part that makes me feel smaller: that I was not worth it for him to try. That I was too selfish to see that he was trying as much as he possibly could. That I would put up with so little for so long. That it was me under the balcony–holding up the moon. That it was me, hiding in the dark, filling myself up with perfumed words and sending them back to myself–liar, lyre, liar. There was no moon. There wasn’t even a balcony, just a fire escape that I mistook for a balcony and that wasn’t love, it was smoke–smoke coming from an actual fire burning inside the house, and still, there I stood, not escaping, there I stood, waiting for the words to arrive that would save me, when in fact I was moments away from being burned alive.

There’s a huge difference between a balcony and a fire escape.



“I may climb perhaps to no great heights, but I will climb alone.”