Together we make lists.
(Holiday, I’m agnostic now)
*Thank you’s
I hide the list I created on stained notebook paper. Crumbs clung to it, and the words were constructed on pencil nubs and dried peanut butter.
Beneath an oil stain are the words, “you never hear me.”
Aloud I say, “We should make a list of things we need to buy. For the Holiday decorations.” I tear my eyes from the frosted pane and I focus on you. You raise a brow and offer “Christmas,” but you barely devote to it a breath, so it sounds more a sigh, and then you fall silent.
I wait for your voice to begin again but you give no answer. I sigh, heavily, and my heart flutters. I consider telling you, but you will not hear me. I resign myself to death, and I buckle under its weight.
I add this to my list, “you don’t talk to me.
Later you press your body near to me, wanting, and I pretend to sleep.
I draw the blankets over me when your breath softens, and I am careful to avoid your skin. You are too cold to touch at night.
I’m in the middle of a meeting at work only I am also miles away when I consider that you might be having an affair.
It is very matter of fact in my mind, this affair you are engaging in. She wants more. You are afraid to leave and lose the kids. I am not hurt by your affair, but rather, relieved.
I wonder if I would be so bold? I glance around the office, but there is no one, and besides, I want someone to talk to.
Although a daytime caress would be nice.
I make a list of the reasons, but I only have two:
*I want this
*I want someone to hear me

You make a grocery list and you include all of the foods I hate. I yell.
My voice echoes through the cold house and sticks, somewhere. I’m not certain where, but I can hear my words thrown back to me. They come out when you are sleeping and they settle in the gap between us.
I tell you that I’m unhappy and also agnostic and you say I am neither.
I tell you that I think you are having an affair and you look up, finally. But it was only to gaze past me–you thought the car turning around in the drive looked familiar. You tell me that you don’t have the time for an affair.
“I would have an affair if I could,” I announce. You smile but you do not answer.

My affair is long and we never undress. I ask him a question and he answers. Later he gives me an alternate answer that I didn’t ask for.
I call him when Grandmother dies and I cry on the phone. It is only when you call that I think of calling you.
I imagine him above me
and beneath.
I feel guilty, and I keep him from you. You do not know he exists, and he is my secret to keep. I erase the evidence from my phone, though you would not care to look.
I talk to him about you and I want him to ask me to leave. He doesn’t and I don’t.

My blood stains the carpet beneath the Christmas tree, and you get the cloth and spray. I clean my finger on my own.
I text him, “happy new year” and he replies immediately. “Happy New Year. Where are you?”
I peer at you. You are sleeping soundly on the couch, an empty bottle clutched in your hand. From my bag I pull the list and place it on the table beside you, the beer bottles encircling the paper.
I hope you read it tomorrow.
My keys pierce my hand and I sit for hours in the car before leaving the drive. He is beneath when the phone rings with the tone reserved for you, twice.
I wonder if I should answer.


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