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New Kiss Horizon
By Thylias Moss
CreateSpace Independent Publishing PlatformCopyright © 2016 Thylias Moss
All rights reserved.
Thomas the Poet
(1988 - now)
You came to the university where I teach poetry, and I went to your performances. All of them. Crowds gathered around you, and you loved it, Thomas. So many people, it was hard to get close to you just to tell how much I enjoyed the performance; a useless comment I know, but all I could say at the time; all that was proper.
Of course, I liked you, but didn't tell you. Just the usual formalities. Handshakes and so forth. That unimportant small talk where nothing memorable is said. The world didn't change. Still needs to. I continue to wait, guess I should work more diligently on changing what I can, in my little corner of the world.
You are part of it.
You were quite a feast for eyes unaccustomed to seeing anyone like you. The way you owned the stage! No doubt that it was yours, and as I watched you, I couldn't help wondering what it might be like, were I your stage. What if you wrote poems directly from me, what if I stood in the wings as a sexy little muse? What if you wrote poems directly on my skin? or braided your words and stanzas right into my hair? What if my hair all loose strands across your face and shoulders, the curve of your arms, was wild unstoppable poems that moved better than anything has ever moved, the invented motion of their own uncontrollable behavior, what if you had ways to capture this? What if you didn't care about conventional literary merit? What if feeling matters more to you, as it does to me? What if what we say to each other in poems becomes the only meaning necessary? — You see, I'd never had such closeness with someone to whom words mean as much as they mean to me.
Thomas, you were so sexy, so slim, so perfect in every possible way; I learned to love cadences and rhythms of your voice enveloping those ideas, your poetry, even back then, and that lusty baritone; Thomas, your voice alone is so appealing. I realized that I could listen to you endlessly and never tire of your voice. Thomas, I love a deep male voice. I wanted to hear it constantly from then on, and I didn't care what you said, as long as you said it
Still is this way, and I suspect, it always will be.
Your voice seduces me, Thomas. You made poetry come alive, and I really liked that, and should have told you.
I was a fool. Yes, a fool for you, Thomas.
Too bad your work takes you all over the world, and there is no way I can compete with all the women you encounter. Some of them absolutely gorgeous I'm sure; you must meet Miss Universe potentials regularly. For you, I would try to be the most beautiful woman in your world, in your universe. You say I am, but I want to really be that. I don't want to deny anyone else her beauty, but I want mine to be real. I want to feel it with every step and breath I take.
And what you say helps me believe. What you do makes me believe.
Gospel Thomas. I believe in you.CHAPTER 2
Thomas Does Some Thinking
I call Vashti.
"Vashti? This is Thomas."
"Of course, I recognized your voice."
"Let's continue our conversation; I know you have a son, and I have a trio of daughters. I had a great marriage, Vashti. Most of the time, we both loved each other; you know how it is, as perfect as possible. My father died, a suicide you know. Practically everyone does. How did you manage to have a son? I want to know this, Vashti. I want to know everything about you."
How to start? So much to say that I'm not sure I should say. But to Thomas? I have to. Everything depends on my willingness to tell him the unspoken things.
"You were about to tell me about your son?"
"Oh Thomas, I have to go way back to tell you this. Just remember that you asked for this. I was a teenage bride, you know."
"And I'm sure one of the most beautiful brides."
"You see, Thomas; right there, you are already completely different, because Wesley never calls me pretty, beautiful or anything like that."
"Well, I'm sorry, but you married a fool who must have been jealous of you. Doesn't he have eyes?
"I do, Vash; I have eyes, and these glasses, are like magnifying lenses. I see you perfectly." Every detail, as if I were the sculptor of you, in my mind where I sculpt you over and over, any way that I want you. And I want you all the time.
"No wonder he didn't want you to go around anyone, did he? — he had to be afraid that he would lose you.
Vashti, you are a gorgeous woman, and I hope you don't mind that I tell you this. Dream, Vashti; you have to dream."
"Thomas, I thought this was a call about poetry, but so far, you just seem to want to know about Wesley ..."
"Wesley, the poetry of your life."
"Guess it should be that way ... Wesley neither reads nor writes poetry."
"That's got to be hard for you ... Do you live at least in a community of artists?"
"Doesn't matter, if I did, Wesley wouldn't want me to mingle with them. And, Thomas, I do dream, all the time. Dream is all I can do."
"Don't you have any friends?"
"Not really. None to speak of, no good friends, other than you.
"After a few years of marriage, one of Wesley's sisters, lost custody of all five of her children, and so did her identical twin, so ten children in total and we were asked if we would take one to keep her in the family, and I, as reluctant as I was, at twenty-six was also somewhat eager to raise a child and although I was suspicious of her background, I agreed to take the youngest; she came with me to grad school in New Hampshire and, well, first thing she did was steal money from the second grade teacher's purse. I did not expect this at all. I was completely unprepared for this reaction to the White Mountains. To things she'd never seen before, even the Atlantic Ocean. Vastness. Then I taught at Phillip's Academy, and this girl, Valerie, begins running away every weekend when she's twelve, and police bring her back every weekend and she does this every weekend until she's seventeen, finally running back to Missouri where she came from and telling authorities who pick her up that we put her out of the house. Had to hire a lawyer to represent us in Missouri, and the lawyer had five years of police records to present in court, causing the judge to dismiss the case immediately, emancipating Valerie."
"Vashti, that sounds awful, but that still leaves you without a child; what happened?"
"Yeah, I wanted a baby pretty badly. I couldn't help it; I liked the idea of bringing life into the world. Although the world is so imperfect; as imperfect as I am; made for each other, but I still wanted to be pregnant, on my own terms. But for some reason, I don't get pregnant, keep trying however. Fortunately, by living near Cambridge, Massachusetts, there's access to excellent fertility centers. So we visit these centers, where the woman is always blamed. Always. We try every technique offered, but with the same negative results.
"As a final possibility, the one I was sure would work, we try in vitro fertilization, my eggs, and Wesley's sperm in a petri dish, and nothing happens. Three expensive attempts. Ten thousand dollars each time, and nothing. At this point, Wesley has semen analysis he doesn't want, as it was so much better when it was my fault, and we learn that not only is there a low sperm count, there's insufficient motility, and the few sperm are misshapen, we're told that it's highly unlikely — impossible — that he will ever father a child, and let me tell you, that inside, I was rather happy to hear this, because not having his child has been one of the best blessings, so far, that life has given me. We're asked if we will consider a sperm donor, and I'm only too happy to consent, but Wesley says: "Absolutely not, as that wouldn't be fair, only one of us would be related; but adoption would be fair, as neither one of us would be related.
He was most adamant about this, although he was related to his niece, Valerie, and I wasn't. And he arranges an adoption of a child Wesley never admitted was adopted. I have a quite strained relationship with Tyrone now. He won't even speak to me, and I was not a good mother to him. Not at all; I have to live with this failure. Maybe one day he will speak to me, but nothing I can do. By then I was in my thirties and unwilling to give up having a child of my own; and I had a few books published —"
"— I know; I have them."
"Of course; I love poetry. In fact, I want you to be in my movie about poetry, if you don't mind. I wouldn't dream of making this movie without you in it; never crossed my mind that Poetry Now would not have you. Please do this for me, Vashti. Look at you; the poetry that is how I know you look right now! — the poetry of what you did in another now. You define Poetry Now."
"Oh Thomas; sounds wonderful. Of course, I'll be in it. Okay."
"We'll talk about the movie later, but first, please finish your story."
"Sure. You like this story about me; why?"
"I like how you take charge of your life. More women should do that. I like what you refused. You are as strong as you are beautiful."
I am blushing. Thomas can't see this. Nor can I see him. But I do like the understanding cadence of his voice, the movement of the notes, the music of his speech. Just his voice, and I am already thinking improperly.
I realize that I can love this man, really and honestly love him ...
"Okay, Thomas. I was getting older, and didn't want to be a first-time mother in my forties, and my eggs were aging with me — and I knew I could conceive as I had so long ago; I refused to be a woman denied a baby because of a medical problem not my own. Wesley had made it clear that a donor was unacceptable to him, but not to me! I did not want donor eggs; I wanted my own — It was my body, and this possibility of pregnancy is not forever for women ... So I return to a fertility center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after preparing my body for a year, with what I eat, mostly organic vegetables and organic fruit, some fish, grilled and never fried, eating at Legal Seafood when we did eat out, Wesley and I having developed quite different palettes, he opting for well-done meat, to my preference for medium rare; and grilled fish to his preference for fried, my love of raw spinach, and asparagus, green stuff he never touched, and when there is no compatibility with food, there's little chance of meaningful compatibility elsewhere, such as the bedroom where sex tends to be served; I want what I haven't had: rare sex, uncommon, sublime, and he wants sex tried and true, well-done, steaks that look like shoe leather ...
"I returned to a fertility center, the one that had inquired about the possibility of a sperm donor and say that I want a donor now, and choose a Bangladeshi man, as brown as I am, but not as chocolate as my spouse; I choose a Bangladeshi man with a graduate degree like I have, so that my baby would likely inherit a combined intelligence, little indications that this child is my child. Anup, my son Anup.
"I'm making decisions about nutrition as I prepare my body to be a house for a baby, feeding myself only what I want to feed my child, speaking to him in both English and Spanish. And I become pregnant immediately. The doctor telling me what a difference a good sample makes. I loved every moment being pregnant; much better than I thought it would be. I had no morning sickness, none at all. My body was meant to be pregnant; I was delighted. Everything about the world seemed different, and what I could achieve in this world was expanding with it. Much more of an accordion life, and I now had access to whatever was hidden in the folds. They opened and I could finally breathe. Of course, Wesley assumed that there'd been a miraculous visitation, that he was the father, because I didn't tell him as his refusal of a donor had been so adamant, and I certainly didn't require permission. Nor do I now, though he certainly would not approve that I am talking to you about things that involve him —"
"— Why are you talking to me about such things if they're going to cause such turmoil in your household?"
"— not cause, only extend, only exacerbate and excavate more of what has been under the surface for years; get it out into the open, deal with it for what it is! — attempts to lower me, attempts to allow him and his precious manhood to tower over me as they never did, and never can. Yes; my pregnancy progressed nearly perfectly until the fifth month when I start experiencing preterm labor, and am placed on complete bed rest, and paperwork from the fertility center comes to the Andover, Massachusetts apartment, and Wesley intercepts it and learns he is no relation to the baby expanding my body and my ideas. So he always knew that he isn't the father of Anup, expanding my life that is growing along with everything else about me! — but I continue to defy him with a radiance he is completely unable to understand! so bright it is, as it thoroughly blinds him, and, to be honest, this is exactly what I also want it to do — I was even more pleased with the pregnancy then; his shock added to the pleasure! — how did he think I would react to his refusal? his edict? I could not allow my life to be controlled any more than he was already restricting it. Wesley said to me, 'Didn't I consider AIDS?' — I had more chance of getting AIDS from his cheating ways; I found out about them just two weeks after the wedding, an unsettling feeling in the gut, another teenager from that storefront church! — and her complexion, Burian's complexion was as dark as his. Something he never would consider for marriage, and her hair was too nappy for him. He really responded to the Indian in me."
"And yet you stayed married?"
"Thomas, I was a teenage fool; there's nothing else that can be said. I was a fool. And I didn't intend to sound so heartless speaking about Wesley. So uncharacteristic of me; I'm not like that, Thomas. Not at all."
"Vashti, you don't have to apologize for what you said. I have a good sense of what you're about, Ok?
"So gorgeous, but hardly a fool, and so very young, eighteen if I did the math correctly. You did not deserve that. And at his age? twenty-four? twenty-five? He was wrong Vashti, and I think he knew that. Just another denial. There was no way he could keep up with you. You broke that man; this was all he had left, to try to break you, but you cannot be broken! — you cannot be tamed, not his way. So your son is born? Bring him, bring Anup with you when you come to Chicago to be in Poetry Now! — what inspiration has come from your own tiny body! What triumph of spirit! — I could tell from your writing that this is in you! that this is who you are! — I can tell from how you're talking to me, well, 'now"
"Ok, see you in Chicago, Thomas, for Poetry Now."CHAPTER 3
(1988 - Meeting Thomas the Repairman in person)
I'm thirty-four when I arrive in Chicago for the shooting of Poetry Now. Love the echo of my footsteps, click-clack of the heels, feels as cavernous as that moment in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy gets to meet the wizard before his exposure as an ordinary man; I feel so sexy in these shoes, and with the echo reverberating, hard to resist adding more rhythm to how I walk.
Dorothy knew nothing about making an entrance.
I own it.
There's no other sound! — as if I've hushed all of it! — a drop-dead walk! — and I know it when I arrive in Chicago at the site of the movie shoot; that warehouse that could be an aviation hangar. It was a long arduous drive at times, but I'm determined to be in your movie; I want to make my poetry come alive for you. I want this desperately, but of course, I do not tell you. It is so good to see you, like this, after watching you perform and learning a little something about your body language, the language I already hope I get to learn to speak.
I'm holding my baby Anup on my hip, pulling up my dress a bit; no need to pull it down when I arrive, as you're watching every move I make; I rest the car seat and diaper bag on the floor, where Anup, can see me, strap him in it, bending as I do so, so that you can see this: I'm already performing for you.
I know you're looking.
I'm already replaying the movie of her entrance; sound of her heels — walking into my life. Oh the syncopation of that walk! Wish I'd been walking with her, is she aware of how she moves, how she squats? Love when she bends like this, when she leans, like a dancer; look at the movement of that dress; like a fan unfolding when she bends, and light cuts through it, makes it seem so sheer. Like skin of the palm of my hand.
I stand as close to her as I dare.
Excerpted from New Kiss Horizon by Thylias Moss. Copyright © 2016 Thylias Moss. Excerpted by permission of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
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Table of Contents
Thomas the Poet,
Thomas Does Some Thinking,
Poetry Now (Meeting Thomas the Repairman in person),
The Death of Helen,
On The Birth of Literary Lovers,
String Theory with Banana,
Dream Baby Tienda (Home of a Microbe Feast),
Happy Thomas Robert Higginson Daze,
Entering Thomas Higginson's Dream Baby Tienda,
Dark Matter of the Thigh-Top Temple (Brooding Matters Estates),
On the Road to the Mandarin Moon,
thanato-death-venustra-woman-phobia-fear of being killed by a woman,
Mr. Thomas Robert Higginson School of Kissing,
Mandarin Moon Madness (of the Discoverer of Peaches),
Planet of the Apes,
Other books by Thylias Moss,