Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Tinderbox Lawn, Darling Endangered, and Doll Studies: Forensics. Forthcoming titles include two collaborations: How To Feel Confident With Your Special Talents (co-written with Daniela Olszewska) and X Marks The Dress: A Registry (co-written with Kristina Marie Darling). She is Professor of English at Western Washington University, and lives in Seattle and Bellingham, WA. Visit her online here.
Hide Your Porn With Plastic Plants; or Hide Your Plastic Plants With Porn
Consider the snowy owl. Pure white, perched like he's guarding the house: will he remember our music, our fights? Six people hover outside our door, cameras clicking as crows close in. Ghost owl was here before For Sale, driven south from the Arctic by an abundance of lemmings. Now he's a calendar, glossy December. Birdwatchers camp on the streets of Crown Hill. Tucked in our bedroom you're snowed under sweaters, batting cotton into boxes and bags. Last night you wrapped dishes in blue plastic bubbles. Your eyes tell me nothing about where we went wrong. Mirrored inside your mother's armoire I watch you glide from shutter to window. Ghost owl swoops, haunting a field mouse. You turn your head without turning your eyes.
Hide Your Valuables When Showing to Strangers; or Show Your Valuables to Strangers
I shouldn't need to tell you where we went wrong. You remember the orange miniskirt I found behind the dryer. The way our phone bill soared to new heights after your business trip to Wichita. And that woman from Kansas furrowing her brow behind rhinestone sunglasses. This house'll never sell, she said, shaking her head. No, this house just needs a woman to help it along. She walked the corridor, appraising its furniture. I could tell she liked my grandmother's chiffonier, with its silver trim and innumerable compartments. I hired her even though you were sleeping with her. Then I watched her perfect mouth, mouthing price points. I imagined the shape her lips would make if she knew why every drawer in the house was locked.
Mood Lighting Sets The Mood For Buying
You wake to the chiffonier in the bath, bar stools stacked on the spiral stair. In the early years my sleepwalking charmed you. You gifted me pillows embroidered with maps. Now I'm a rumpled middle-aged realtor, too busy with showings to take you to bed. Before we were married you tasted of almond. We chose not to have children because we loved sex. One midnight you found me surrounded by bread crumbs, mayonaise smeared on cabinets and doors. Knives dangled from the chandelier. You locked every drawer as if we had kids. Now you undress in the dark, hang your dress on a hanger. I'm fucking someone named Trina or Trish. She buys me breakfast for dinner on our weekends in Wichita. Fucks bent over a desk. Fake license, fake breasts.
Never Underestimate the Importance of Social Graces
You never saw Trish as a rival. Her white blonde hair, the dark roots at her temples, and her array of unbuttoned blouses were too different from what you already had. Now you're outside in the Lexus, taking her for a test drive. Sometimes I wonder what it would take to snap each one of her press-on nails. Darling, your real wife is waiting in a water-damaged house. I straighten my dress and shout from the kitchen window: Let's get on with the tour. More and more, I find it difficult to be polite to my competition. There's a reason I don't have women as friends. Before the affair, you were the one who locked away the flatware, every one of the brand new kitchen knives. That was when I realized you knew me better than I knew myself.