Christine Fadden – Presto

“Meet me at the ice cream parlor by the firehouse,” I tell you.

“Women always end up the enemy,” you say, sweating.

“Make a wish.” I shove a metal spoon between your two scoops of Butter Pecan. Wait for you to blow out the candle I hold.

Men in dark blue t-shirts—heroics stretched across their chests—suds up the cherry red truck while I lick colored sprinkles. Leave bodies for mind,

for you. I

wrapped bookplates— This book fucking belongs to ____________, a toy store squeaky rat with hearts all over, a magic set for grown-ups. I do not believe you
already know how to
saw yourself in two, hide the girls, thoroughly

But, Master, I mind. You
dedicate your art to a thief, then hate us all, searingly, blindly, for the same radical crime of not wanting to listen to you whine.

Your first girl, a dwarf without her big-star-boulevard heels, gussied-up or throwing knives and plates of deviled eggs, parades across the deepest recess still. An albino physicist loses the only tux you own, pisses in public, and you horde postcards scrawled with her toppling promises. A kiss over daddy’s suicide, like your suit “All gone!” entitles one to collect your mail.

O, Star, your naïve act is pure tact in the back of a cab with an Other one who wants to hold the hand of the man you are
holding for ransom.

What cost, if I could count broke? You’d think us gals’d recognize each other by the egos we dog-eared just in case we lost our place.

You could count on me to bear it grinning, to forget the sincerity of “Sorry.” Strand me with strangers to make my own introduction. “Hello, I’m not me.” Nobody and all bodies will do.
Go now, midnight delivering sleeping pills to the windowsills of other men’s wives. Scratch panes. When the curtain is drawn, turn from light. Steal awakeness. Know she will dream because of you.

But when she comes to, your cue. Bristle. Scat! You have lived on crumbs, locked in the dark that promises everything fucking belongs to You, while all your fucking

I meet you this time, at your ice cream stop across from a clog shop, to return your book,
get back one thing: “Where’s the rat?”

Present your empty palms. Drop tears. So real, for what? My sweet-side my
prize-girl thighs sticking to the booth? Sun, sweat, salt, and sugar. You do not owe me
my imagination.

I peel and slide to a stand, leave ice cream to melt, resist pulling a three-dollar bill from behind my ear.