String Theory Relationships

Kelli Russell Agodon

The essential idea is this — the man you love is connected to you

no matter what, but he’s also connected to the woman

     down the street with the small dog that barks at the lilacs,

     and she’s connected to the cashier at the market who’s a bit rough

with your grapes, but he thinks you’re ten years younger than you are

and he gives you free saltwater taffy and calls you

     darling — but he also calls her darling, and her dog

     darling, and the man you love along with the grapes.

The essential idea is this — all objects are composed of vibrating anxieties

— everyone wants a window or aisle seat and no one wants to sit

     in the middle. Call it deniability. Call it the flashlight you keep

     by the door never works in emergencies. We are all connected

by the blast that brought us here, the big bang,

the slam dunk, the heavy petting. We can’t always be pretty.

     We can’t always be the eyelash and the wink, sometimes we have to be

     the ear, sometimes the mouth. You are and are not the speaker in this story —

you are the bridge connected to the bridge connected to the man

you love and the woman you dislike who teaches spin class. It’s not

     personal. It’s not personal when the universe says it’s complicated

     and you have ten minutes to understand quantum physics.

When the man you love says there’s a new connection called supersymmetry

and it exists between two fundamentally different types of particles

     called bosons and fermions, you hear bosoms and females.

     You hear he’s thinking about the spin teacher with the nice breasts

and you burrow deeper. The essential idea is this — someone will always bruise

your grapes and someone will end up in the middle. Someone you love

     will break your favorite coffee mug and bring you lilacs. And you

     will be connected to people who make your eyes roll.

You’ll be connected to others who stand on the bridge and consider jumping off.

You’ll try to care for them. And you will not look your age, but you will

     feel sad when you look in the mirror because we all want to live

     a little longer, because the small dog has died and the cashier

has lost his job for stealing saltwater taffy from the bin, but he still calls you darling,

calls everyone darling, and today, darling, darling, darling, the flashlight works.


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