The woman is ovulating. On the floor, she knows this. She
has never seen beneath the microscope the shapes of ferns
cervical secretions assume only at this time. But
she imagines them. Male ferns, you know, are common
as mud. She imagines only uncommon ferns.
Maiden's hair. Venus hair. Heart's tongue.
Cinammon. Slender cliff. Madeline. Madeline.
Jennifer Anne. Ovulating, the woman dreams
a story. In that first garden, where they slept
they slept among ferns in weather we call
spring and ferns were the meal she prepared
for them the day she first conceived and the first music
in the garden was the sound humming its way out of her
during the conceiving, conjuring crystal spiral
unfurling. On the floor, the woman has forgotten
her story, her possible daughters. She has not forgotten
she is ovulating. The man is stopping
touching her now. The man tells the woman on the floor
she has to do something for him now. But first,
he offers to do something else for her. No. Threatens
to do. There were no offers that night. When the man
knocked the woman to the floor her mouth dried. This
is what desert, death mean now to her. This night, this man
is what terror means now to her. Time will expand
this definition to night and men. She is learning
real meanings of common words, here, this night,
on the floor. On the floor, she will beg this night
for water. Years later, talking alone in a closed room
with a man her mouth will dry. She will not ask a man again
for water. The woman on the floor believes she has a choice
of what to lose. Does what he has been wanting
her to do. She kisses him to keep his mouth
away from her. She will continue to kiss him to keep
sure of his mouth's whereabouts. She knows, reaching
for his mouth, she is losing this. The woman
on the floor is kissing the man who has her
down on the floor. She feels nothing. She
feels nothing so when she sees him coming
out of her and she has felt nothing, known
nothing, she goes a little maybe you'd say crazy.
The woman on the floor is making noise and the woman
is ovulating. On the floor, she knows this.
She begs the man. She will not stop. She will not stop.
She does not beg him to stop. She knows now he will
not stop until he stops. She knows when he stops he will
kill her but maybe he will not kill her maybe
she will still be alive when he stops and she is
ovulating. She begs him to let her put in her
diaphragm. During this time, he has been moving
her, slamming parts of her into what does not
move--wall, furniture, door--pushing her
along the carpet the way you push
hard on a rag wiping a bad kitchen
and each time the man starts to raise himself above the woman
to do what a man does above a woman
the woman has been trying to move underneath him,
all scatter and confusion in the darkness
like some blind little animal
trying to maybe scramble herself maybe somehow away and
trying to avoid him and she does not know if she is
avoiding him because she feels nothing
and the man is pressing down on her so hard
so hard scraping her into place to keep her
still. The man is not confused. The man is not pleased.
The man is not pleased with the woman's behavior. He
lets her know that. He lets her know that. He lets her
know her behavior will have to improve. The man tells
the woman he does not want to hurt her. He
tells her what he does not want to have to do to her,
what he does not want to have to make her do. He
reminds the woman of what he was willing to do
for her, is still willing to do. He would do that, he says,
for her. The woman on the floor can not improve
her behavior but she promises. She promises and the man
decides to allow her the diaphragm. He stands. He looks
down at her. He looks down at her. He tells her she can
get up. He asks if she wants him to help her get up.
She says no. She says she can get up. These words
do not really come out of her mouth. What
comes out of her is only a slur of sound
but the man understands this language. She
gets up. She is standing. She falls to the floor.
A little heap. He offers to help her up. She says
no. She says she can get up by herself. She
tries. She tries to get up. She is almost now
what you could almost call almost standing. She falls again.
The man says nothing. He picks her up. He holds her
standing against him. Holding her, holding
her arms, he half-carries her into the bathroom her hand
gestures him toward. She scans surfaces, opens cabinets.
She can not find the diaphragm. She finds the diaphragm. He
asks if he can help. She says no. He says he wants
to help. She says no. He contents himself with holding
her dress up around her waist. She gets
the diaphragm in. It is over now. She knows this.
He must know now what he has been doing. It is over now.
She knows this. He will leave. The man pushes her back
into the living room. The man tells her she has to get back
down on the floor now. The woman can not believe
this is happening. She believes this is happening.
She believes he still must not know what he is doing.
At the same time she believes he does not know
what he is doing she believes he knows
what he is doing and she believes he will kill her. There
is a word for this simultaneous belief in incongruous
notions. He makes her get down on the floor.
He will keep her, there, on the floor
two more hours. When he leaves he leaves her
alive. When he leaves he leaves her a five dollar bill.
When he leaves he leaves her in such good condition
when people say did he hurt you, she can honestly say,
No. He did not hurt me.
I never again consult my fern lover's companion.
The meaning of ovulation has been changed for me.
Contents | Mudlark No. 2
Entertaining Ray | Outrageous Behavior