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A Cathedral of Light

We were in the kitchen making fried eggs after the party. Or maybe we were washing dishes after we made eggs. It would be easy to say my hands slipped in to the warm water next to his, coaxed by that rainbow illusion glycerin has. It would be easy to say I was lost in the domestic archetype that is born when you stand beside someone at the sink. It is the familiar dance to the music of plates and glasses under water, under warm lamps.

The world had become a bleak thing to me. It is perhaps naïve to say it like that, now. The world is a bleak thing to anyone who pays attention. When I was a kid, I peeled the bark from rotting trees and flipped rocks from their cradles of dirt to watch the frenzy of ants and pill bugs. Entire worlds go about themselves in the dirt. I used to believe in cathedrals of light. That moment when sunlight filters into something previously dark. When the sun rises nowadays, I jog east.

People will disappoint you. I say this with no particular event in mind, save for the rock lifting and light breaking through the glass as I watch the world each morning. The belly-crawling bugs get ready for work, they bring their trash to the curb. There is an unkindness to the way of things. It shouldn’t surprise me. When I tell my husband, Joe, my heart breaks because up and down the street I see a chain of injury, off people betraying each other, themselves, fucking around, lying, gossiping, bragging, degrading, you name it. Just not outward violence, because that would be animal. No one sees anyone, I say. Everyone is trying to cure their own hurt by being meaner. It doesn’t make sense. But the world just keeps going on and on.  Joe looks at me as if I grew a third tit and says, You been living under a rock until now?

Everyone else had fallen asleep. Neil was new to the block. He sat at my kitchen table. He offered to help with the eggs. Joe had given his blessing and a wink before he went to bed. I rolled my eyes. It’s not my highest priority to explain our philosophy on open marriage to the neighbors. I’ve seen how they are. Though, Neil was good looking. He wore glasses.  He was soft-spoken, and his hands looked as if he had played years of piano. We washed dishes after we made the eggs. It was how my hand slipped in the glycerin-water next to his in a comfortable domesticated silence, and how he finally said of the soft bubbles that everything is blessed by light.

My lips parted his first. My tongue slid warm against his teeth. Our breath formed a circuit. His  muted moans smeared against my skin. As the sun rose, I slipped into my own bed.  I held the memory of light fresh on my tongue, guarded it. When Joe asked, I lied though I had no reason to; something I had never done. And the sun rose higher in the sky. And everything went on, and on.


Leah Mooney is a poet, writer and working mother in rural Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and daughter.  Her work has most recently appeared at Tilt-a-Whirl, Literary Mama and Spilled Coffee.


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