He places one almond next to the other. Her eyes, he says.
A shucked pimento under the almonds, the emptied olives, two, an inch further down, holes tilted opposite—tits, he says—and a ragged sheaf of lettuce below.
Legless? I ask. Not even a crutch?
You don't know her, he says. Pluck out thine eye, he says. If it offends thee. He eats an almond. This is all there is to do with this wife.
New drinks come, though they don't disturb the woman vegetable.
The milky water of distance jams up on heat where I look to look away, it pleats up to the window. I have a room key in my pocket, here from the business I have and not his. I'm never coming again, I say.
He says, Then, if you don't mind? and takes out a camera.
How foolish is that? I say but I hold still to show how I mind.
Taxi, please, I say.
Melon Collie is not the sort of name on a white box stuck to my front, but nearly. I want M&Ms right then, a bag heavy with sugar.
He starts to kiss me while the taxi takes such a long time and instead of to the airport, we zip drive into history, a Not Yet scrawled on the lunch receipt and a long corridor of buildings on both sides, lawns and flowers.
I have stood a long time on this lawn.
The bric-a-brac of more food is being passed around, with mayo, with spices, with nothing good for after dinner, after an afternoon next to the milky water of distance. At least there's music to talk over. I stare into a raked space, fountains flushing, and people I used to know party.
Let's see the two of you together, he says, swinging me over to the pool where surely this new wife's face reflects, the wife of almonds.
Where have you been? she says to him.
I am the answer. He canters, he dives right in, clothes-heavy.
Someone has scribbled all around the bottom four inches of the coatroom, a decorating detail in magic marker that someone else continued. I don’t see names in the scribbles, nor rabbits nor fish nor anything psychoanalytical. Clumsy is what I see. Prehensile. Pre-
This is, after all, where things come up out of the tar.
She says thank you and I don’t ask what for.
You don't go to the airport without a reservation and expect to fly. I see women baggage handlers before I see a ticket. Did you ever see a female baggage handler? I ask the woman beside me. She has not yet emptied her purse the way I have, looking for credit cards, finding that lettuce instead of a tissue, put there as though I wanted to protect it.