Petra Backonja


Portrait, With Pearls

People, being that they are one’s companions and worthy of consideration, obtain but rarely to perfection. My husband is no old-school oyster. Understand the season and unbear me half a moment to non-removable singularity. We get on. The successes alluded to in his future obituary open doors for me, though he’ll walk forever in the valley of unreformed excess.

He betrays me and allows me to adore him. What is meant by this distinction? That I won’t get off so easily next time when the arc-length on my world’s absorbing selfishness yields the linear transformation of a greater goddamn.

“Her hold on me is absolute,” he said of a dozen other women. He places, perhaps, the line of his horizon too high. Would that it were enough for him, through the elegant instrument of the imagination, to shirk family harmonics in the full disk of a noon’s sun, and by mere reflection place himself in Times Square or Timbuktu, his inverse image in some arbitrary strumpet-zone while he sits with me in our little garden sipping iced tea. But no. That would hardly do for him, any more than one actual night, or even two, in a lover’s plump arms. Nevertheless, why should I leave him?

I have observed that for the sadder class of generalized minimal suffixes, a trivial wife is always somewhat bitter. Her colors relent a little faster too, and falter opaque. Though in luminosity unequal to sunlight, they still tire the eyes by-and-by as a monotone map might. And I ask, by-the-bye, who posited that the limit of an individual at infinite unbelief must be zero?

Don’t expect me to renew the subject. Married bliss is best when modestly grateful and mute, like a night watchman with nothing to do, indeed, with nothing to see, so that eyes, one supposes, are hardly even necessary.