What the Hell Is Always the Right Decision by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

She combed the yellow light into her hair and looked out the door into a street full of forties California. I have nothing but words to say these things. No shrugs or silences. No scent of Chanel or musk. My limits are the absence of muscle, the lack of spit, of mucus.

She lay down with the sun and salt air. It flicked over her body, ran its fingers up between her thighs, lingered smelling of opposite darkness. It’s not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on.

From the spun hub of a childhood world, her live skin became a pale template on which to project anger, an era, a vivid absence of color. …I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. In her mind, the remembered slap, the recalled hand rising and falling. No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl.All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.

Need led her to the garage, her head flung back on vermilion satin. She lay down with gardenias, glow struck through the leaves rounding the stem like spikes on a collar, green one-directional, always moving the eye toward her legs, their exultation of white. It take a smart brunette to play a dumb blond, she said, whose curls bounced in unnatural profusion and texture, compelled a glance.

I can see her. There are pictures. I watch her turning and turning or crouched over the subway grate, holding down silk wings in the rich humanness of her bone and sinew. My limits are always the corporeal, the touch of her gone with ’47 Chevy’s, GE’s most important product, “Progress,” with America after the war holding the light against a Buck Rogers future, imperfectly imagined. My limits are artifacts, a person in pictures, my image of a woman who said: A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of two books and three chapbooks, most recently Chap Book from Platypus Press, UK. For more about her work, check her website at www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com.