I Love the Way Men Crack
I love the way men crack open when their wives leave them, their sheaths curling back like the split shells of roasted chestnuts, exposing the sweet creamy meat. They call you and unburden their hearts the way a woman takes off her jewels, the heavy pendant earrings, the stiff lace gown and corset, and slips into a loose kimono. It's like you've both had a couple shots of really good scotch and snow is falling in the cone of light under the street lamp – large slow flakes that float down in the amber glow. They tell you all the pain pressed into their flat chests, their disappointed penises, their empty hands. As they sift through the betrayals and regrets, their shocked realization of how hard they tried, they way they shouldered the yoke with such stupid good faith– they grow younger and younger. They cry with the unselfconciousness of children. When they hug you, they cling. Like someone who's needed glasses for a long time – and finally got them – they look around just for the pleasure of it: the detail, the sharp edges of what the world has to offer. And when they fall in love again, it only gets better. Their hearts are stuffed full as èclairs and the custard oozes out at a touch. They love her, they love you, they love everyone. They drag out all the musty sorrows and joys from the basement where they've been shoved with mitts and coin collections. They tell you things they've never told anyone. Fresh from loving her, they come glowing like souls slipping into the bodies of babies about to be born. Then a year goes by. Or two. Like broken bones, they knit back together. They grow like grass and bushes and trees after a forest fire, covering the seared earth. They landscape the whole thing, plant like mad and spend every weekend watering and weeding. Ellen Bass