Lake Effect, Spring 2006, Volume 10: from Finding Carla

Joan Connor


from Finding Carla

And you will tolerate his eyes and hands, forgive him, because you love him after a fashion, after a quality, because you are his flawed rhetoric, walking proof of it. And you will only regret this, not him, but yourself—that you have had the capacity for love of another quality scorched out of you. Its fizzled unit burns a hole in your chest. And your own brain is an alien probe. And you will swallow your pride like a rapist's come.

Because you know that language is the female form of resistance, recourse to language, the female response to aggression, to violence, to indignity. But you cannot speak because you have swallowed your tongue, your lips, your mouth. There's a frog in your throat, and a lizard, and a green snake, and a writhing boa constrictor.

And maybe, as you part, he will say, Friends? And you will want to say, If you want absolution, go to church. But you won't. You will lie instead. You'll accept his hand so that he can go on living with himself which, to his mind, constitutes a perfect couple.

You asked him for nothing, and you got it. When he says goodbye, he omits your name. It occurs to you that he has forgotten it.

Stunned to silence in a stunning silence, you will stand in the street and wait for someone to help you give a name to a rage so unutterable, so gorgeous that you are afraid to part your lips, because then Carla would speak, and she would say...