Marc Tretin

Goddess My love goes apple picking all in green.Her russet hair sets off the bright-red fruit.Between two boughs, as a stately queen,she nods and silently accepts the tree’s tribute,then presses her palms upon its trunk and liftsherself up onto the thick black branchesas a half-light dapples then softly siftsthrough all the red-edged leaves. The sun blanchesto white, almost, the unpicked McIntoshes.Then at once, my love becomes lost to me.The setting sun’s harsh yellow washesout my sight. I see what my eyes cannot.Her presence is invisibly before me.Traced in the tree’s limb’s gentle filigree. It Is Not That You Hurt Me, but That You Did Not Even Hurt Me. Look over here, Justin—In the mirror.Yup, that’s me, your wife.I never thought death would be like this.It’s Funny, I spent my whole lifemaking sculptures of Egyptian Godsand end up looking like this—an octopus,your favorite invertebrate.I am the monster our marriage made;my bulbous head is coveredwith a blond pompadour. I have the hairthat ends my alopecia, so I can feel more like a woman,and these silly tentacles are supposedto end your castration anxiety.Your touch always felt like a weak apology.Being nice enough is never nice enough.My corpse is next to the sculpture I made of mein all my cephalopod glory.Yesterday, I got tired out eatinga tough chicken cutlet sandwich, soI took a nap and never got up.I saw in a flash—a hundred-foot cauliflowerwith white light pouring from its heavenly florets.“Yes! Yes! Vegetable sculptures!”were the last words I said out loud.Then I felt my arms multiply. I was given a visionthat explained our marriage.I caught you, in my eight arms,when you were a seagull, diving for herring.I wanted to love you, but couldn’tget past your feathers to the meat. Sometimes when feeling affectionate,you’d pluck off my scarf that covered my head,then say, “I love the oval shape of eggsand the pointiness of your chin.”Mostly you expressed your gentlenessby not being physically present when physically present.Sculpture was my way of saying, “Here I am.”They say I must be honest with you to move on.The truth is, bureaucracy is eternal,and dead I am happier than I ever was with you.I know I will be reborn. It is sort of a punishment.But they say it is nothing personal. You Think the One-Hundred-Pound Barbell knows it grows heavier each time you cannotlift it; and knows all your festering sinswill turn your muscles to meat marbled with rot;and knows its self-contained air that you breathe inoxygenates your inward-drawing awethat makes a weight a deity who sublimelyrepeats your punitive self-made lawthat tells you, “You’re out of rhythm, out of rhyme.”Its gathered gravity asserts its massthat you must heft, with knees that’ll genuflect,yet, with a well-timed surge, you’ll prayerfully passthe weight overhead as you stand erect.Quietly, you place it back on the floor.Then do the same moves seven times more. Marc Tretin’s writing has been published or is forthcoming in Bayou Magazine, Bluestem Magazine, BoomerLitMag, Burningword Literary Journal, Caliban Online, Common Ground Review, Crack the Spine, The Diagram, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Door is a Jar, Faultline, Free State Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Griffin, Litbreak Magazine, Literary Orphans, Lullwater Review, Mad River Review, The Massachusetts Review, Minetta Review, Moon City Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, The New York Quarterly, The Painted Bride, Paperstream, The Penmen Review, Pennsylvania English, Pudding Magazine, The Saint Ann’s Review, The Round, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Whistling Shade, Ghost Town Literary Magazine, Qwerty Magazine, Voices de la Luna, Vox Poetica, and Willow Review, and he was the second runner-up for the Solstice literary magazine poetry prize in 2013. He was the 2015 winner of the Audrey Wasson and Carol Leseure Scholarship in Poetry. His poetry collection, Pink Mattress, has been published by New York Quarterly Press in 2016. Conferences he has attended include 92nd Street Y, Colrain, and the West Chester Poetry Conference. He has studied with David Yezzi, Molly Peacock, Rachel Zucker, William Packard, and Emily Fragos. Tretin has an MFA in Poetry from Spalding University. He was an attorney in private practice and is now retired.