That week I heard birds all through the night. It was summer and we slept with the window by the bed open, the breeze letting us sit in its palm. When I woke from the bleeding, I thought I had woken from the birds, the woodpecker making hard noise of our walls. So many new things entered this night: I had never heard a woodpecker so close. I had also never felt so much blood.
I’ve wasted so many things. So many beer cans left on the windowsill. So many emails from people who believed in me that I left in my inbox. I’ve picked up so many fragile, beautiful things, only to watch as they rush back down. When I find the maggot-fetus on the floor of our shower, I feel intensely fearful that our skin is something that is almost all gone, almost all out; for many moments, big and bleeding moments, it feels like my body, too, is something that goes to waste.
In the days after, I have dreams that we have raised animals together. In one, we have trained a pig to climb the slide at the playground, to drink out of champagne bottles. We show our pig to all of our friends; we take our pig swimming, and when he goes underwater, I follow him to make sure he doesn’t drown. I do this, also, to see your naked torso again.
Just last week we played makeshift-baseball on the light-soaked lawn. You pitched a tangerine and I, with a branch I found by the fence, delivered one hard smack. The tangerine laid on the ground a few feet away, separated into perfect segments; the thing having broken perfectly in the air.
I only have it in me to say this one time: there was once something to exist that was only me and you. It sits now in a puddle on the floor.
Katie Culligan is an essayist and poet living in Knoxville, TN, where she recently served as the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for Sundress Academy for the Arts. She is the recipient of the 2019 Margaret Artley Woodruff Award for Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. Recent work appears in Hobart, Geometry, Columbia Journal, American Chordata, and others. She can be reached at katieculliganwriting.com.
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