Anne Riesenberg

On a Rainy Spring Night

They were both sick He was traveling for Work when the worst of it hit She was home with the Pets they weren’t talking Much she felt Guilty he had to Push so hard his Earnings so obviously What kept them Going

Her fever was close to 102 when he asked Would she pick him up at the Airport and it hadn’t Occurred to her that He would make Such a request she couldn’t Breathe it was raining and She’d have to stay up for Another three hours but Since he had asked She was stuck

So she pressed a little Asked him if he needed Her to come get him and He said need No but want Yes and so she agreed Knowing part Of her simply Couldn’t bear to hear the Tone in his voice when He thought she Was selfish

Another part felt backed into a Corner didn’t want to Bow to his need to Be sicker more deserving More something that would Support what He wanted or maybe That was all in her Head the legacy of having Done things she didn’t Want to for fear of Reprisal and so she skewed Ordinary neediness into a Darker story

When his plane got Delayed he wrote You are released from your offer And she was grateful She didn’t have to Push past her limits and Closed her eyes savoring the Value of imperfect Choices the grace of saying Yes within the context of Love

She went to Bed moving hesitantly her Skin steaming the sheets much Too rough and listened to a Recent retelling of the Trojan War saga how willingly the King sacrificed his daughter How faithful the Queen was to revenge

Two hours she lay There worrying about Him coming home In the wet and the Dark and then it was an Hour past when he’d said He’d be back and she was Concerned and sent Him a text

I’m just landing he said Will you come get me and She realized she wanted to And stepped into the Night the streetlight was out in Front of the house the Sky unbelievably black the road Slick with new Leaves

She wore her pajamas the Airport was only two miles Away the route almost Deserted she circled Three times looking for Him then Parked and tried to Absorb the late hour the Mist as it blew in From the sea

And then He was in the car and They were home and Resolution trembled Above them its own finely Wrought cloud

What Isn’t There

It’s dark in the room Her sister is trying to sleep On the recliner she’s Curled on a joke of a Cot their mother lies barely Alive in her Bed no food a few sips of Water some Indistinct smiles the Lights are Low the staff has been Increasingly kind and Solicitous all day They have been Attending their mother’s Dwindling breath

She wants to Sleep her body is pinging Pain zigzagging her limbs she Wants stillness a moment Alone in this overwrought Triangle of female Alliance today for the first time Since her mother fell She felt her guts shift towards Death a teetering extravagance like the Moment in labor she Knew she was Losing control

Her eyes had felt Extra wide the vista She was able to see increasingly Dimensional beyond Comprehension sensations Unruly unknown she wants This kind of expansion she Hungers desperately for It

She has just fallen Asleep she is wandering in A parking lot with rusty Old cars a howling Dog tied to a Fence she Can’t tell if it’s Mad or afraid When she feels a Hand on her foot the Hand pulls then Yanks her sister’s voice a Fish hook into her dreams She wakes the Voice says this is it She is going

She struggles off the Cot and goes to the Edge of her mother’s Bed her sister’s Tucked between her Mother’s tiny back And the wall She takes her mother’s Hand cradles it they Watch her breathe

Her mother’s eyes startle a Far off uncertain stare Knees pump up and Down like she’s running her gestures Faster more adamant Than seem possible She’s been Barely substantial for years gradually Her legs calm her Breath still shallow but Starting to regulate the Moment passes they Try to sleep

June light wakes them early Her head feels purple Amoebic nerves briny and Cold her mother Says good morning her Eyes steady as If nothing has Happened her sister hurries Over she takes a sip of water Opens the blinds

Under her skin the Lingering chill of her sister’s Hand on her foot the Undeniable absence Of her affection

Like Wasps Under Her Skin

She is waiting for the repairman to replace the furnace. He does all the work — reinforcing the wall for proper attachment upgrading the wiring removing the one that blew up. He tells her he needs two weeks to install the new equipment. A bubble of terror glistens inside her I can’t wait that long she says and he laughs. There’s a piece of pink tissue paper folded into a square inside the folds a mouthful of diamonds. Light from a window sends prisms onto the walls she smiles for the first time in days where did the jewels come from whose are they she wants them she really wants them as though if she has them she will be whole. In the morning the repairman accuses her of stealing the diamonds and threatens to have her arrested. She has learned not to defend herself in situations like these.

Wildcard

She needs to move a large object across a chasm there is a mechanism for doing so that demands measurement and precision she is not strong enough to do it alone so finds other people to help. Pete has a grey hairy back the whole of it inked with an arcane symbol she’s never seen five red orbs and a black scroll that defines them. Pete is another kind of man his wife Patty acts as his handler he is a wildcard and needs to be managed. They plant trees in an ornamental flower garden, flame-shaped elms to protect the blossoming vines. She sleeps that night in the bower when Pete gets in her bed she wakes becomes small starts to scream. Patty arrives and tells Pete to leave. In the morning her mind is intact but her bones have softened to rubber she is flat now like Gumby and very flexible.

Gravity

1.

She lies flat on her stomach at the edge of a cliff a beach far below ocean rising and falling against the rocks. She lowers kitchen appliances into the water with a long rope — a blender a microwave an orange Crockpot then a garbage disposal — she registers the differences in their weight by the burn in her arms as the objects enter the water — the garbage disposal descends quickly most definitively jerks her slightly closer to the edge. She sits up as she tries a canoe digs her heels in the dirt to brace herself as it falls into the water she can not keep it from entering the ocean nose first. She hears a sucking sound then a gulp as it sinks. When the tide recedes she hauls it back up it’s the tug in her arms she can’t do without — the interplay of heaviness and immersion how she assimilates gravity in her muscles and flesh.

2.

The following day she returns to the cliff the president’s daughter not this president’s daughter not one she recognizes but an important young woman with body guards and a cloud of foreign dignitaries hovering. The daughter has lowered a rowboat into the water seeking a similar array of sensations the men who attend her are worried – she fell into the waves came close to drowning and they think it was intentional. The body guards ask her what she knows about this practice of lowering objects into the depths she lies down next to the cliff to explain looks into the water the water has become opaque the precariousness of her endeavor abruptly obvious.

Anne Riesenberg received her MFA from Lesley University. Winner of Blue Mesa Review’s nonfiction contest and Storm Cellar’s Force Majeure contest, finalist in the Noemi Press Prose contest, her work has also appeared in The New Guard’s BANG!, Heavy Feather Review, What Rough Beast, The Maine Review, Naugatuck River Review, Solstice Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Maine.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.