Gritty Details

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tonight's Poet Corner: The Jobber

The Jobber
by Belinda Roddie

I literally wrestled with the fact
that you were leaving me today.
I pinned it down on the cheap green
carpet in the living room, gripping
its limp wrists so tightly that
my knuckles went Moby Dick white.
It flailed for a few minutes. It gasped
for air like a dying fish, even though
my knee was only threatening to crack
its pelvis and not the ribs cradling its lungs
like a dead man's faceless children. You

had packed one suitcase, and in it
were three things. The first thing was
your dignity, wrapped up in a
dish towel that you had once used
to clean the salt off my cheeks after
I ruined your last birthday cake. That
cloth still holds the stains, as if trying to
recreate Jesus Christ's face so you can
sell it on eBay and buy back your time
spent with me, too. The second thing

was your grandmother's ring, the one
with the sapphire that was older than we
were, brighter than I was, bluer than
your eyes, which so many people complimented
without my permission. I remember
the Renaissance Faire, when a stout man in
chainmail told you that you shouldn't wear
your sunglasses because your eyes were so
beautiful, and I wanted to hit him with
his own iron tankard full of cream soda
because you should have only gazed at me.

You told me once that you would have
proposed to me with that ring, if only
my fingers were a little bigger, and my ego
a little smaller. The third thing you packed
was a camera: Just a tiny, obsolete point-
and-shoot, all because you thought your
state-of-the-art cellphone couldn't capture
the moment properly with its silicon smile.
You'd use it for every occasion, even when
the lighting was bad, and the flash would
turn our eyes to gold, which didn't suit you
as well as blue did. And I thought that maybe

you kept some of those pictures, only
I knew that there was no memory card
inside that little machine that could, and
there was nothing but empty space
inside its belly and white noise buzzing
from its nasal cavity. There was nothing else
worth taking, you told me. You watched from
the kitchen as I attempted to hold the truth
down for the count, sipping a cup of coffee
before making your exit. I felt the seconds ticking
by, but there was no announcer to declare
me the winner. The match was over. Time just

pushed forward and rigged the bout, and I was
left only with the bruises from the fight. There
was no belt to win and no audience to scream
my name. You left me crying and sweating on
the floor of my house, but you left the door open
so the wind came in and cooled me down. And I,
too exhausted to be defiant, wiped my brow and
set my opponent free, and I walked away from
the ring as reality whimpered but was happy
it had kept the title and maintained victory.

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