Crack the Spine - Issue 144

Page 22

on her nose. “I’m an excellent judge of magnification.” sand at low tide, a placemat fading Our conversation is a series of overstrikes. By last call I feel imprinted in an old-fashioned way like paper slowly working through a typewriter. “Phyllis,” she says, “since you’ll want to know my name.” She takes me by the arm as if she were batting left-handed. “I knew you were nice when you jumped off that bench. I bet you open doors.” We turn up my walk and inside my apartment I drape a towel over the cage to keep the cockatiel quiet. Phyllis is thirsty, and as I give her a glass I wonder if she has to take a pill. banyan root, the wing-tucked leg of the wading bird She drinks the water in the bathroom and won’t let me watch.

When she opens the door dim light floats out toward the couch where I am waiting. She is wearing just a towel wrapped under her arms like a strapless dress. “I want to make love without taking it off. You don’t have to know why.” She pulls the bathroom door shut and goes over to the window to widen the blind. Partly blocked by the slats the streetlamp looks like a lunar eclipse. “A moon like this,” she says, stroking the bands of shadow and light.