The delivery men called; they would be here within a half hour. I remove the fitted sheet from the bed I bought with her sixteen years ago; one year, minus a day, since our divorce. The right side of the mattress no longer perpendicular to the floor; toward the middle, it slumps downward, or perhaps the top is what is causing this deformity, stretching toward the door for escape. There are stains: dog vomit, Vietnamese noodle soup, red and brown dots from the soy and hot sauces mixture I use for my popcorn, the sudor of Omaha nights, the yellow, milky sweat of her opioid withdrawal.
They will haul this mattress away; to where I cannot know. Within, I would guess, the fur remnants of five dogs no longer with me, the cells of two children who have grown, and the DNA of the woman who let go of promises and years.
This bed, like my marriage, both archivists I struggle to move beyond. It’s always been this way, my memory somehow not enough to validate the worth of my story. This is why, perhaps, I describe each of my former dogs’ quirks to my new love.
They set up the new bed. The mattress proud, untainted, a blank slate. I lie naked on the plush, unprotected mattress. Let the dogs bury their noses and tumble on the lavish, virgin hills.
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Rich Furman is the author or editor of over 15 books, including a collection of flash nonfiction/prose poems, Compañero (Main Street Rag, 2007), The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational World (Columbia University Press, 2016), and Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles (Oxford University Press, 2012). His poetry and creative nonfiction have been published in Hawai’i Review, Coe Review, The Evergreen Review, Black Bear Review, Red Rock Review, Sierra Nevada Review, New Hampshire Review, Penn Review, Free Lunch, Colere and Pearl.
Photo: Dibyendu Joardar