Consider this the first warning: a spider, not even a big one, on the black LACK side table. Particleboard, fiberboard, plastic, foil, and paint–but the trees are in there somewhere, each with a name no one bothered to write down. And that makes this spider a messenger, sent to tell me that Nature will take back what is hers.
That night, I dream I push my desk–our desk into a snow bank. It’s an accident, and when we can’t get it out, I’m terrified that you’ll leave me. I fall to my knees, sink deep in the white wet, and beg you, Don’t divorce me. You sit down on a stump and tell me that I was your greatest mistake.
Cut to the walk-in closet, built of splintered boards, where I am sobbing, trying unsuccessfully to separate sheets of pie dough into equal and even squares. I am telling you, I don’t want to go back. Please don’t make me go back. You stare at me, saying nothing, wondering how you got stuck with such a stupid, useless wife.
The next morning, I wake one minute before the alarm, my room already warm with the surprising late spring sun. I taste the bitterness of us inside my sawdust mouth, wishing there was water to wash you from my tongue–knowing I could drink the world’s rivers dry, and still, it would never be enough.
Consider this the second warning: before yoga class begins, a small dog runs into the studio, stops on the middle of my freshly cleaned mat, and proceeds to shake his body–short white fur flying off the way the cherry blossoms coat my car every morning, like so many bruises.
I come home and pull a shirt from the pile of dirty laundry, no longer caring that the sleeves are caked with bread dough and dirt. I slide it on, and with each move, I’m missing you, wondering if you ever think to write my name on sheets of paper, until every inch of pulpy space is filled.
We were born in November, the season of death, when leaves color brightly and then decay just as fast. When the gardener came and ripped out the peonies, when I spent hours raking, only to watch the back porch get overtaken yet again. I should’ve paid attention to the signs–that what is new is not meant to survive among the old, that all the wishing in the world won’t make the green live past its time.
It’s spring now, the color sprung from brown ground, branches full and home to newborn squirrels and birds. Life, everywhere I look. I wonder if this is when we let the ghost of “us” sink back into the soil, let the grass grow over it, roots crawl in and wind wild around it, until on the surface there’s no sign that we ever existed.
Side by side, we lay, as a forest of pine and oak covers us completely. It stretches over hillsides, and one day, gets chopped, chipped, and mashed–shoved into the limbs of an IKEA coffee table, on which some happy couple will set a shared slice of pie, the plate resting on the very spot where you forgot to write my name.