m c boyes

The Couch

She could have burned

it. A Great conflagration

against the seed

spilled onto the legs

of the slim girl

beneath him. And from the girl

onto the paisley

cushion below.

She knew all

about this—the smallest

detail. Who was under

whom. And when. And how

many times.

About the surprising


of pimples on the back

of the girl’s long, smooth

neck. About the smell

like fresh cut hay

and old rainwater.

But is was too titanic,

this couch lurking

in their wooden

house where two small

children lie sleeping

beneath an open window

where the long white

curtains fluttered

above them

like breathing.

Where everything

was flammable.

Who has not been in

this house? Who has not heard

the soundtrack? A few minor

chords spiraling lightly

around themselves, while

she rifles through the old

letters and drinks

tequila straight from

the bottle or sobs and makes a cup

of tea or scours

the kitchen floor, one

square of terra cotta

tile at a time.

We have seen the one

where she lassoed

the couch and dragged

it like a recalcitrant

animal toward the door.

The goal—the street

and the #18 bus. A grand

ending, her sitting

on the couch

in the middle of a city

street at 4:00 a.m. Holding

a glass of white wine

into which she has dropped

her wedding ring.

A grand ending—

the ring glinting

from the bottom of the cup.

But city doors are not

that wide and the ending makes

no room for the sleeping

children and health insurance

payments, and grocery lists and

who likes mustard and who

does not. So he put

it back in the living

room and promised

to never ever never. Promised

to take the tests

for safety. Promised

to love them all

like never before.

Still, the ghost

of the smell. The phantom

of the back of the girl’s

neck rising up

whenever she sat down

to watch cartoons

with the kids.

And, so later, when no one talked

about the couch anymore, when

she went to the hospital, he hired

some men to take

the couch away and replaced

it with a sleek black thing

no one could sink into.

In her sterilized room

he kept his secret for her

return. He kissed her and told her

to come back to him,

to come back whole.

Instead, she had the surgeons

make the cut where

they found her tubes—

small cords, really. And it

was there, they tied the knot.