It’s the little things, she says, that bite you, and while he truly doesn’t want to believe this, for it ought to be the big things that cause the problems, he knows she is right. He recalls that a simple thing like an address everyone knows is 123 3 X Street is true for all save the power company which says it is still 98 Y Street, although they cannot hope to explain why this is so. How many other addresses for this place are there, how many things go wrong because someone wants it to be this while everyone else assumes that. So you sit and wait for the power company to bring light into your world and warmth into your life with winter closing in rapidly.
He says “the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line.” She says, “you will miss seeing of the amazing sights if you follow that inane rule, and by the way Einstein made it quite clear space is curved, and the line you think straight is not at all, so why not follow a more varied curve and see what there is to see along the way. It might surprise you.” He says, “I have to follow the road and the interstates are the most direct routes.” She says, “there are an infinite number ways to get from point A to B.” She wants to try several of them and if he doesn’t like it, well there is always the back seat.
As we walked slowly through the Forum
the Coliseum receding into the late
afternoon, the Virgins stood patiently
as befits a priestess trained to avoid
the stares of passing men, even tourists
such as we were, the columns staring
down reminding us of our youth
despite the birthdays that we celebrated
with the joy of togetherness, and
the nagging knowledge that we were
another year closer to that moment
we refuse to acknowledge, aware
always of its growing proximity.
We stare back at the Coliseum,
as the sun slides behind its walls,
and as the vendors selling all manner
of items the buyer will regret
in mid-flight home pack up for the day,
I imagine Caesar pausing in thought
then, sneering, turning his thumb down.
They walk slowly, each step measured as to both length and cadence. The need not speak, they have long been synchronous, now cannot avoid being so without great effort.
They say nothing, words have grown superfluous, and would only interrupt the slow procession of the clouds, the ducks swimming against the river’s flow, the birds playing tag, each claiming to be it in turn. Each day they turn together, at different spots along the river walk, and return home, amazed at all that is different on the journey back.
She moves with the fluidity that suggests she has been trained as a dancer, though she denies it, says that she has no interest in dance, barely tolerates music and then only because it sometimes is a requirement. She smiles, though it doesn’t seem at all natural to her, more another thing she does because she believes is quite often required. Hers is a life of requirements and she strives to be compliant, choosing to hide a seething passion deep within, for it terrifies her: this is what she was taught by her mother, how she survived four older brothers, a father who feared his reflection in the whiskey bottle and quickly erased it,, the devil deal with consequences, the pain on her mother’s face, she often too slow to duck. She knows the day is coming when he will be repaid by her, and she hopes no one she loves is near Ground Zero.
She says the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. He doesn’t have the heart to tell her That on a cosmic scale space is curved and no one wants the short straw anyway. She can, of course, read him, a skill she knows is reserved for women and is one of frustration to men. She laughs, and adds as if an afterthought there is a wormhole in the neighborhood. He has no idea what to make of her, and this is how she wants it for she and he both know so very well that the shortest distance between the male and female mind is a leap of logic only the most daring would attempt.