“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”—
“Within the homosexual element, there is a group called the “power bottomers.” The power bottomer is not just an expert at sodomy; he is singularly dedicated to this sexual assault and will entertain no other.”
Most days, Isolde wakes up groggy in a puddle of afternoon light, the damp orange fingers of another wasted day curling around her skull and squeezing. Marc has already risen. She knows he is sitting in his office down the hall, suit firmly pressed, busy at work—on what? This century hasn’t left much work for kings.
The castle got turned into a museum a while back. No room for Isolde amongst the figurines that can’t seem to get her eyes quite right. So they moved to the suburbs, one of those beige houses with stucco thorns and a driveway the color of Marc’s hair. The neighbors never see them.
Isolde writes to Tristan every day. Tristan, the dog’s been dead since the Fourth Crusade. Tristan, last night there was an earthquake. I dreamed we were on the boat again. When I woke up a telephone pole was on fire. Tristan, the house is full of empty picture frames.
The mailman doesn’t know how to tell her that “To my love, wherever he may be” is not a proper address. Tristan, the keys of Marc’s typewriter sound like rain on the forest floor where we slept. He keeps the letters in a bag in the mail truck.
Isolde sends Brangien to the corner store for more beer. Tristan, you told me that loving me was a drunkenness without end.
Some nights, Marc falls asleep at his desk. Isolde watches sitcoms until all the streetlamps in the neighborhood shut off. The mailman’s truck is beginning to overflow.
Tristan, I pray for the end every day, but I just get thinner. Why can’t metaphors die?
Tristan, the bards all sang of your madness— what about mine?