From the Archive: Julie Cameron Gray (CAROUSEL 26)
JULIE CAMERON GRAY
I want my husband to disappear, dissolve
like a spoonful of sugar in a cup of coffee.
I want him to fall asleep at the wheel
for a distracted driver to make a mistake
for snow to conceal a slippery surface.
I want it quick and painless and over in a flash.
Twist of metal, bone, the shattered
windshield a constellation
across black ice.
Traffic backed up for miles.
I’d get a call in the night, some
official telling me so sorry ma’am,
but your husband …
I want to know the temperature of that grief.
And then my husband would be perfect,
a perfection that exists only in absence.
I imagine the funeral, where I’d be buffered
on all sides by my family, by his —
I would be small, suffering, mute,
barely able to stand the funeral service
without sobbing uncontrollably at my own loss.
The clucking of tongues:
He was so young.
Such a shame they never had children.
And underneath it all:
But she’s young, she’ll find another.
Lost like a letter in the mail,
a button off a coat.
And the absence —
how exquisite, to be burdened and alone
with that misery, that wound
I imagine moving about my apartment,
fingering his belongings, crying
I never wanted this to happen, I never
really meant it. It was just a thought.
Only a thought.
But at night in my big empty bed
the stars would claw at my window,
branches would scratch at the glass,
saying you wanted this.
I would know it was the desire,
the brief fantasy that gave me
this precise and measured out loss,
dispatched as coolly as life insurance.
But it isn’t money I want,
when I imagine my husband gone forever —
No, it’s the delicious cut of the tie,
as clean as a head from a body.