I can’t listen to “I Melt With You” anymore by Ashley Naftule

The detectives chalk outline the face of Jesus

gazing up from the oil slick staining the driveway.

It was touch and go at first—

first responders on the scene

saw Marlene Dietrich tipping her top hat at them

from within the black swirl.

The victim’s mother saw herself 

as a girl,

drinking a Roy Rogers at that steakhouse 

her parents used to take her to, 

the one up on the mountains with the big wagon wheel outside—

where they’d cut off your necktie when you walked in 

and hung it from the rafters overhead.

That night her father’s blue tie had pineapples and cocktail shakers on them—

it was her favorite.

She had spent that whole night sipping Roy Rogers, 

trying to outline the shape of the body 

encased in her tears

with crayons on her table mat.

It was no use—

the limbs kept evaporating.

All the evidence of her pain fell under the jurisdiction of air.

She was grateful at the time for that weightlessness, 

but now she wanted so badly to pin everything to the earth,

to hold her memories 


until they were as flat and hard as the concrete under her feet—

until they were tangible enough that ants could march across their surface

the way they do on the face of Jesus.

Perhaps then you’d rise solid from the pool of her tears,

Icarus in reverse—

flying back up through your bedroom window,

the broken glass resetting itself in your wake

like a time-lapse jigsaw puzzle.

Taking off your feathers and storing them carefully in your bedside drawer,

you’d crawl back into bed—

wax still clinging to your skin.

And in the morning,

your mother would leave your favorite tie 

hanging from the doorknob.

And there would be a cup of coffee steaming

at the bottom of the flight

of stairs,

hot enough to burn the wax seal off of your lips

once you’ve finished humming that Modern English song you love so much

and come down for breakfast.

Gazing into that cup, 

you’d see a face in the black that you can’t bear to see again.

The same face that only ever looked beautiful to you

when it was broken into a thousand tiny reflections 

on your way down.

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