THE WOODHOUSES, THE MARITAL BED IS LAVA, SLEEPWALKING by Ariel Clark-Semyck

the woodhouses

“greensleeves” floats through the halls of the high-rise & stops in for the showing.  the new tenants are young & comely.  they pay no mind to the plea of the piano or the hospital stretcher rounding the corner.  the woman’s blonde hair curls inward at the ends, teasing the tip of her heart-shaped face.  the man wears a powder blue linen suit & slaps her ass while the realtor isn’t looking.  they each excrete a gasp when they see the living room.  they make a show of admiring the antiques, the burgundy drapes.  they take a thoughtful glance at the writing desk.  i can tell they can’t wait to paint everything white.  maybe yellow as an accent color.  their first night in the apartment, they peel their clothes off in silence & couple on the bare floor.  smoke reaches through the keyhole of the closet & threads its needle through my eye.  it’s nice to have company. 

 

 

 

the marital bed is lava

i watch the occultists sit down to roast beef & mashed potatoes served on fine china.  they swirl their glasses & playfully bicker about the pope.  it’s chocolate mousse for dessert.  one wife notices the funny undertaste but eats it anyway.  smoke trails from the armchairs, through the parlor room, to the kitchen where the women wash dishes in rubber gloves.  back in their own bedroom, the husband sits five inches away from a televised boxing match while his wife unhooks her garters & comments on the other couple’s dining habits.  her body collapses to the floor & turns into a slinky.  he picks her up, an end in each hand.  her coils stretch & condense from palm to palm as she whispers baby names in the dark until morning.  andy or jenny, andy or jenny, andy or jenny suckle at my heartstrings.  romance is feeding each other grapes for twenty years while our voiceovers pop off.

 

 

 

sleepwalking

sadism is not a good replacement for self-fulfillment is the kind of shit she says to herself as she wipes the blade on her hem & exits stage left.  the hallway tonight is drenched with thick black air.  it gets stuck in her hair.  it wears her body like a dress as she paces back and forth, the hands grabbing at one another like two animals in heat.  one hand mounts the other hand & rubs & rubs.  is watching it die the same thing as taking its life?  she caught a cricket under a glass once & waited until morning.  she caught herself under a crumbling pedestal & waited for years.  this little hand.  she takes her hand to her nose & then takes it in her mouth.  this little hand.  she sucks on the knuckle of her index finger.  the air watches this, its appetite sharpened.  it sops from her hair down to her face & sucks.  she thinks goodbye would be like going to the grocery store & picking up a pound of ground chuck or a gallon of milk.  the air turns her head over & over on its tongue.  is watching him swim further out to sea the same thing as watching him drown?  she thinks goodbye would be like sitting on the shore with the sun in her eyes, like taking a photograph of the sunset so she could look back on it fondly whenever she liked.  one hand mounts the other hand.  the air has whittled her down to an echo of the sound of him at the end of the hallway.  he is grabbing another beer from the fridge.


Ariel Clark-Semyck is a writer from Chicago.  Her work has been published in Flypaper LitHeavy Feather ReviewGrimoire MagazineWitch Craft MagazineYes Poetry, and elsewhere.  You can find her scuttling around on instagram: @mousecadet.

Art by Crow Jonah Norlander.

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