Loves of His Life

by Fabienne Josaphat

There are women living in my father’s desk drawer, splayed across the cover of books, in three-dimensional flesh pale against the night, skin thin and translucent as spider’s web pierced here and there by the sharp angle of letters impaling limb and breast and torso with the muted violence of male fantasies. 

There are cocktail waitresses and flight attendants and prostitutes living lives with heads buried between the legs of spies emptying themselves in their voiceless mouths. 

There are women living in boxes of playing cards, breasts like boiled apples, nipples placed dead center in a disappearing pink of a Fragonard body, halos for hair, legs wrapped around mandolins, arms emerging from soap suds, backsides cradled against pillows placed by fireplaces. 

The women in my father’s albums are nude under clothes and seem to know so, judging by the silence of their glances frozen on black and white photography, screaming counterclockwise against the ticking tail of time, “Let me see your own body, hand me the key to this foreign flesh,” wondering whether it burns the flesh like coal or stains the immaculate splendor of their bedsheets, or whether it bleeds blood red like theirs or a darker hue when he falls dangerous and dead on their streets. 

There are women living in the annals of his brain, their names converging like Parisian streets and running like canals. 

There are women coursing under his skin, molding themselves against his frontal lobe and haunting the bottomless pit of his night terrors, and women crawling through his curls; women in two-piece suits shedding to their ankles – blink and you will miss them; women written in honey and bile against the pages of historians rewriting the soft triangle of miracles. 

There are women haunting his house, dead-walking from room to room, hair loosened and tongues tied into knots around large salted bricks. 

There are women who are real. 

There are women who spend a lifetime embroidering their names against his in the corner of tablecloths and bedsheets they’ve shared together, washing the cloth of their lives together with their own tears. 

There are women slowly eclipsing with the years. Those are the women he does not see.

Fabienne Josaphat is a writer living in Miami. Her previous publications include Off the Coast Poetry Journal, Grist Journal, Fourth Genre, Damselfly and The Feminist Wire. Her novel, Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow, was published in February 2016 with Unnamed Press.

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