The Goddess Corpse

 

If lies were the same as coat racks, we’d count the pegs before purchase. We’d try to recall how many jackets he owns, and then consider the Full Wardrobe version. Its postmodern design would appall us, the Plexiglas neon feet, the baroque swirls climbing the shaft as if the wood bled dry spaghetti, the pegs shaped like Atari joysticks. We’d wonder at what point we stopped loving him because of his excesses, or was it our excesses? We’d search for attributes other than pegs, we’d borrow a tape measure from the Home Care department and examine heights, as if the distance from one end to the other mattered.

We’d buy the display model, and cover it in bubble wrap. We’d make room in our hatchbacks, empty the passenger’s side of his Mapquest directions and Marvin Gaye CDs, and then we’d fold the seat down. We’d lay the coat rack so the pegs were in the back, the feet in the front. Its alignment would feel familiar.

The back roads would be the best way home. As we’d turn onto Kenwood Road, we’d mentally count his coats again: two, nearly identical leather jackets he wore in the spring, one a gift from a lesbian, the other from his mother-in-law.

He never wore them because he knew a leather jacket meant a leather attitude, something he told us he’d no longer have. He also had a North Face winter jacket, and a flannel that was almost a jacket, but not quite because it was only used for the yard work which he never did.

We’d find Kenwood Road just as chocked up as the highway. We’d have forty minutes before we’d arrive home and he’d ask, “Why on earth did you buy a coat rack?” and then “What’s for dinner? I want tacos. Your taco.”

And then he’d say, “You could have used that money on something practical. Something for that.” He’d point to our pregnant guts. “A stroller,” he’d say. “Or a crib.”  

An idiot in a U-Hall would slow down and tap his breaks at green lights. We’d consider yelling something like, “The gas is to the right, asshole,” only because our voices wouldn’t be able to escape with the windows up and music blasting. Between riffs, we’d remember winter semester, 1997, when we shaved our heads and experimented with breaking the social restrictions imposed on our tongues and tacos.

We’d honk, and the driver would see us at the next light. From the way his eyes would square off like a box, we’d know what he’s thinking: aggressive driver, penis envy, pregnant, slutty, father-hating bitch.

No, our problem is this: the world has made us think in future conditional tense. It has become the essence of our conscious experience, a way to stand of outside time and consequences.

We’d make a left off Wyoming, and the U-Hall driver would slam his brakes upon seeing a patch of ice far ahead. We’d smash into his bumper. Our muscles would tense, and as the progressive forces would heave us forward, our seat belts would pull us back to the moment and leave a bruise on our breasts.

We’d feel the impact, not of the accident, but how our minds sequentially arrange events--the grammar of thought is so ugly--and upon realizing that time’s duration is subject to self in relation to the world (one beats steadily while the other is steadily beaten), we’d prioritize our insights, try to catch the coat rack, but as it would surge by, we’d hear the bubble wrap crinkle, stretch, rip, the shaft’s trajectory so loyal to itself. It would shatter the glass and discard all its pegs, and the bubble wrap would blow across someone’s lawn and wind itself around a piece of patio furniture, making it look new and unwrapped.

We’d collect the pieces, move on, wipe the glass from the seat. We wouldn’t exchange insurance cards or call the cops. Instead, we’d go somewhere for duct tape and glue.

If chastity were to become a heating duct, we’d wear our clothes to bed.  He’d roll over and say, “No more coat racks and accidents. How much was the coat rack?”

We’d say, “Something like $100.” He’d flick our nipples with his thumbs. We’d feel him press on top of us, his stubble so sharp it could scratch the paint of the walls, and we’d be afraid that his weight would disfigure what grew inside us. The heat would come on, a continuous gust, and we’d hear his jackets ruffling on the coat rack next to the vent, arms whacking arms, zippers rattling, jackets becoming entwined in jackets, their whole experience confined to wooden pegs and hot air.

If distance decided to measure itself in units of raw beef, we’d buy burgers the size of thumbtacks. We’d demand that he do the shopping for now on, that he should have bought the coat rack because Ikea is right next to his office. “Fine,” he’d say, “I’ll go get one now, if that’s what you want. You might as well give me the damned grocery list, too. Anything else? An above-ground pool? A new computer? We have all the money in the world, don’t we? So tell me, what do you want?”

He’d slam the door, and the coat rack would sway on its unbalanced legs. 

We’d remember our fathers because we’re father-hating bitches.

When we were seven, we picked the Christmas tree and he bought it. He dragged it from the car to the living room, hating it before even hoisting it up. He could not situate the tree evenly in the stand, it tipped and fell, again and again. He backed away, glared at it, and said, “This is the wrong tree. It’s horrible, it’s ugly. Why the hell did I listen to you?”

After trying again, he threw it down. “Take it outside, get rid of it,” he yelled.

We could have tossed it in the woods, but we would have done anything to provide that poor tree with a sense of dignity and honor, even though it was dry and dead and cold. We apologized to the tree and balanced it between piles of rocks. In the icy air, too frigid for a dead tree, we dressed it with glitter, which would certainly blow away. We circled it with broken lights, and fastened last year’s star to its top, and we would have stayed there all night with the tree, would have imbued it with a sense of purpose by having it accommodate a secondary, more natural Christmas, but the wind and sleet were too much. We turned our backs, said goodbye, went inside, and felt sorry for it. Dad got another tree, our first plastic one, a tree that was impervious to both winter storms and heating ducts.

If loyalty were made of pine, we’d cease to identify with the dead. We’d put his jackets on the couch, and disassemble what was already broken. We’d remove the pegs and put them in a plastic bag. We’d drag the coat rack to the side of the road, and wedge it between a torn up, pissed on recliner and a box of recyclable bottles. We’d stare at it, as if it felt things, and then we’d tell ourselves, yes, right, there’s no beauty in this, there never was.

We’d put our hands on our bellies, feel the warm life generating inside, and swear by God we’d keep this girl from ever going outside.

 

- Don Peteroy