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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Lockpicker's Woman

Summer looms with its ferocious heat that feels more like weight than temperature, and you become listless. You say you want to leave ahead of the season, want to go to the north Atlantic coast or Appalachians -- anywhere cooler. You watch me clandestinely to see if I am upset by your impending absence.

This is part of the game we play, and my role is to show indifference because that fuels your interest. The first heat wave arrives suddenly one afternoon, and you tell me you're leaving. But I find a scorpion nest in your travel valise, so I know that you have not even begun to air it out and pack.

You, my lover, think you have peeled back all my layers and know all there is to know about my desires. You have tried money, sex, protective gestures, intellect and humor to pry me open and bind me to you.

But the core of me lies beyond the reach of clumsy lock picks.

Under my yearbook photo was written the words, "More to her than meets the eye."

All these years later, can't you see I'm still the woman standing outside the frame of a photograph, revealing just my shadow?

Come, admit that I am only perfect for you as long as I don't open, because it is the seeking -- not the finding -- that you really love.

*Inspired by a powerful line from Ken Burns' Civil War series, telling how "picklock biographers" never discovered what truly lay in the heart of Ulysses S. Grant.


Harry said...

I'm glad you posted this here. It gives me a chance to tell you that since reading it before, I have caught some of Ken Burns civil war series on PBS. I think what strikes me most, is the eleoquent use of language. The narrative is largely from the journals of Generals or letters to and from infantry and their loved ones. Private or Commander, they all seem to write with Twain's flair. I'm sure these were hand picked of course, but in a time when who knows what percentage of folks completed what would today be called a high school education, those who were literate seem to have a much greater command. Have you seen the movie, "Idiocracy"?

Angela said...

This is one of my favorites. Speaks to the nature of some things with a special brand of bittersweet longing.