A Relationship in Chiarascuro by Meg Freitag
A Relationship in Chiarascuro by Meg Freitag stories
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When I loved him it felt like light Coming out of my skin. I don’t mean this
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A Relationship in Chiarascuro by Meg Freitag

by ________

When I loved him it felt like light

Coming out of my skin. I don’t mean this

In a good way. It was a light that didn’t belong

To me. It got into me somehow and needed

To get out: rat teeth of light, needle-nosed

Pliers of light, sawed-off shotguns

Of light, light with its axe and shovel

And precarious notions of basic human

Rights. We went to a party and I watched him

All night from across the room, like a snake

With its eye on a prairie dog’s

Hole. He was drinking a silty microbrew,

Talking to a girl with breasts on display

Like the ducks in the windows

Of Chinatown restaurants. No one talks

About how crazy snakes must feel, all suddenly

Hating each others’ guts whenever

Dinnertime roles around. Hunger as a lifestyle.

Edith, we don’t get to choose what we most want

To put our mouths around. How did I have

The particular misfortune of loving

The handsomest man in the room? Caravaggio

Prepared his canvases with the powder of dried fireflies,

He told me once, as he peeled the green jewel

From the abdomen of a lightning bug

And stuck it on my ring finger, in a style perhaps best

Described as proposal-casual. You could have seen me

From heaven then, I glowed so hard

And high, like a star that just didn’t feel like being

Around other stars. But like any creature divorced

From its kind, I could only last so long that way. In the grass

Was the discarded part of the bug, a bit of black

Life wriggling out of him still. Do you remember, Edith,

When a guy sacrificing an animal for you

Still really meant something? When the sky started

Purpling, a despair sat down beside us and we both

Picked up our phones, stared into their luminescent

Screens like we were looking into Magic 8 Balls,

Thinking, each for our own reasons: there has to be

Something more than this. I wanted him to take me

To Houston to see the Rothko Chapel, I wanted him

To meet my grandparents, to bring him along

To church with us, introduce him to the priest.

Lately I’ve been reading Wikipedia pages,

Trying to figure out where I got it wrong. I read that

For a week at the beginning of June, the fireflies

Of Elkmont, Tennessee, all blink

In unison. And apparently men are fifty percent

Less likely to become aroused after sniffing

A dish of female tears. When I found the texts

He’d been sending to another girl, I stood on the edge

Of the bathtub in the windowless dark and shrieked

A couple years’ worth of shrieks.

I’d been shoring them up, knowing this day

Would come. I was glad to have them, then.

God, Edith, it felt so good to make such an ugly sound.

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