for when she’d a thing (from prepositions for elijah)



                                                                     [ prepositions no. 41 february 7 twenty twenty ]


for when she’d a thing
for rust
the record full of entries of those who’d known her as
a sarah said sarah’d a thing for rust but before she did there was
a thomas nearby who’d sucked where ever that thomas could find
rust grades two through six this thomas preferred water fountain tip
heads chrome peeled back get a hall pass from a missus evanslombe
his favorite teacher looked the other way then a matthew told our sarah
how this thomas made it all the way through fifth grade before
the school nurse caught him sucking the tip of the fountain outside
the gymnasium eyes rolled back in his head on a hall pass after that
this thomas’d switched to the third sink from the left for a year this
matthew told our sarah this sarah his sarah tommy’s shirt collar went
soaked every day the way he’d pretend to drink from that faucet

matthew went on in the record for when someone come in tommy’d
turn the sink on real fast act like he’d just been getting a drink i seen it
myself but just before he’d been tonguing that rusty faucet tip
he said
i saw it myself peeking through a stall door only opened it a crack he
didn’t know i was there but soon as who’d ever come in would leave
he’d mouth fuck that faucet again
he said with his tongue for when
this matthew went on telling this sarah things in the record about our
thomas started by teething on a rotten quarter panel matthew gone on
as a baby pulled himself up by the tire first time tommy’d ever even
stood up in his life was right then on that car
and matthew told her
tom’d just sucked on that rusty spot on the quarter panel and when
this matthew told that story that way about thomas as if matthew’d
been there when he hadn’t thomas was okay with it because rust had
been what this thomas had wanted to taste for as long as he could
remember it made him happy he wouldn’t correct matthew when he’d
started adding color like a fucking catfish at the end thomas never said
that but thomas had told matthew the shape of the rust spot been like
a t bone
and this thomas had liked the taste most on the spot where
gristle would’ve been gray like lichen patina and fizzed on his tongue
and when sarah first heard about this thomas it wasn’t all the sordid
details from this matthew yet thomas been a rumor in her junior high
school locker room before matthew told her anything about this
thomas she had started to want to taste too the beginning of the end of
something made to last and our thomas remembered that spot on his
father’s chevy it’d been cheap zinc they’d made that model then the
record shows how every nineteen seventy produced that year rusted on
the quarter panels in a single winter even in places where they hadn’t
even used salt on the roads where they’d called it the midwest on
the nineteen seventy kingswood a beauty in the making of modern
family motoring
the brochures and televisions told people they should
buy this car and pack the children and hit the road for indian country
they even said it just like that indian country in typography invoking
how wild the west had been and whatever sold they’d say it no
matter how fucked up it was it was said as long as it sold and on
the passenger side quarter panel is where it started for thomas this
matthew’d been right about that in the record how thomas had told him
himself when they were eight they’d wrestle in the field past the osage
orange horse apple hedge they’d been called then hiding a field
beyond the schoolyard where thomas and matthew went take every-
thing off except their underwear with y fronts hanes for thomas
mine’re bee vee dees said matthew when they practiced wrestling
the coach had called them penetration moves and thomas told matthew
how he fell in love with rust and made up names for how a lick tasted
and this sarah was quoted in the record having said them other shapes
his tongue could make
and many more in the record are quoted from
then saying them other shapes tommy’s tongue could make our thomas
with buck teeth a gap a whole tooth wide between the central incisors
had been matthew’s longest friend even though you can see the
horrible things matthew said in the record about thomas of what you
can see and hear in the record and all that data predicted matthew most
certainly versus more than likely were the scales of predictability then
that he would’ve said something about thomas’s thing for rust when-
ever he’d been provided a platform matthew left in the record each
chance he could this matthew had lines for all his future friends’
funerals gotta think beforehand matthew told sarah for when funerals
were where they’d said good byes to one another until after no one
gathered any longer to say good bye to someone already gone still
matthew had the most bad things to say about all of his friends and
the most of the most were about thomas and even more after sarah
became matthew’s wife when sarah had finally told matthew of shapes
thomas could make with his tongue and his teeth all from sucking on
this sarah’d finally told matthew and in the record sarah said
matt’d been in love with me since we were kids and everyone in town
knew it
the way sarah would say what was i supposed to do go with
sarah said and our sarah had married this matthew told him
i’ll feed you when you fuck me and at first he did then he’d been less
hungry when they’d all starved and matthew wanted to loved sarah
since eighth grade but hadn’t kept up with anything but humiliating
his friends say to stuff to sarah like that face of tommy’s come from
getting so god damn high
is how matthew told it over and over you
will hear matthew say it in the record broked his own just like that
matthew talked in the record left upper and second premolar broked
his teeth right out
matthew said and the record shows thomas had
gotten very god damned high one night if god damned high could be
defined as higher than any high thomas’d ever been the record does
show how he went and knocked on each of them gently with a hammer
first then pulled them clean out with a plier
just the way matthew said
exactly how thomas had done it then after removing the left upper and
second premolar our thomas gone stuck that iron tie we’d found by
the old brick factory when we were kids
in the hole in his mouth for his
remaining days just as they’d all said in the record thomas loves iron
he could smell and taste it in his blood four and three quarters inches
long the iron tie thomas found in the grass by the brick factory when
he was fifteen when he hadn’t been a kid any longer thomas and
matthew took their clothes off all again except their y fronts thomas’
still hane’s matthew’s now calvin’s neither had wrestled on a team in
years after they let their skin dry in the afternoon breeze smoked pall
malls thomas stole from behind the bar when his grandfather would
take him to watch chicago on the television weekday day games when
they’d supposed to been out fishing thomas could have all the popcorn
and roy rogers he wanted play pool by himself no one else in there
at eleven thirty in the morning but him and his grandfather and lonny’s
mom connie who ran the place they’d go out back together between
innings share thomas’s grandfather’s moonshine he’d finger her
and that’s where thomas had learned what fingering meant from his
grandfather a heathen and thomas liked pall mall soft packs the way
they fit in his grandfather’s shirt pocket the color he’d lit two in his
lips with one match just how he’d seen it done in a movie and passed
one to matthew they leaned against what’d been left of a wall in soiled
briefs when matthew said to thomas it doesn’t count with our clothes
still on
and to sarah this matthew said he’d kept that damn thing under
his pillow ever since
the damn thing being the pick thomas found that
day in the grass tried to show matthew what it could taste like when he
held matthew in his spladle move he could look over matthew’s
shoulder see how hard he’d become they’d learn that wade schalles
move together from their coach invented just a decade before and
wade schalles’d been put in the guiness book for having the most wins
and pins of anyone who had ever wrestled and how could that even be
true matthew told sarah how he first learned about the pick i crashed
over his house enough back then we’d party hard and you would not
want to know all of what tommy’d did with that pick of his
but our
sarah did want to know wanted to known it’d been true this thomas
had kept that length of iron under his pillow since he’d been fifteen
since that day in the field by the brick factory holding matty in a cradle
his free arm found that piece of iron in the weeds and he’d licked it
hard waiting for matthew to submit offered it to matthew who grunted
uncle thomas let him go but he kept the iron tie he’d wake in the night
when he’d believed matthew passed out they’d party hard and place
the tip of the tie beneath his tongue or force it all the way to the back
of his throat thomas loved the taste of bile mixed with iron when he
gagged he’d gone and banged it good and flat with a hammer to fit
better after he pulled them teeth out so god damn high just another
big gap in his mouth
this matthew said i still have them teeth and he
showed his wife sarah a hand full of teeth not even upper and second
molars the record shows the two teeth matthew kept in his pocket had
been matthew’s own third molars called wisdom teeth then carried
them in his pocket to accompany the moments in the record for when
this matthew would always be prepared to tell the story of the freak
matthew said fucked my wife sarah after all them fucking years i tried
to help that rust sucking mother fucker
and while the records do show
matthew and sarah birthed two off spring paul and junior matty junior
matthew preferred calling his youngest or jay em jay for short and due
to the existence of these two children that would’ve made our thomas
technically a mother fucker had thomas technically fucked sarah
that fucking rust eating prick
matthew said over and over the record
shows that thomas and sarah hadn’t committed copulation but the
record shows thomas did in sarah’s presence many times each one
at her specific request or suggestion jammed or rammed he liked those
words she used best his iron pick in where ever he preferred to he’d
sucked it so clean his remaining teeth made it soft and smooth even
still it tasted of rust he’d leave it out for the night to get the oxygen
and moisture to begin fresh catalysis then he’d also share with or in
our sarah how she preferred to and over the decades now of thomas
having done this to himself alone he’d fashioned abilities thomas
shared only with sarah when she asked none of which required the use
of his primary sexual organ only his tongue and his buck teeth and
the pick and once in the record thomas said to the matthew but we
don’t fuck fuck
and matthew lay awake ever after for when sarah been
the first one to tell matthew for certain the record shows it’s open
source for us to find all of all of the results whatever we want to sift
through to consistently total three thousand six hundred and thirty
seven dates in which matthew lay awake said to himself inside his
head practiced lines and facebooked them too while sarah slept he’d
whispered them a loud only took a month of sucking on it for his face
get that way to stay that way
he’d whisper for permanent that turd
colored groove on his cheek
in the record sarah thought the brown
stain and divot that ran along his jaw above and under where thomas
kept his pick in his mouth made this thomas handsome enough may be
more so
she’d been recorded saying meth’d made him lean too and
sarah liked lean in the record she’d also tell he’d been a chubby boy
the first time i’d ask him to show me how
and matthew lay awake see
a funeral in his head matthew practiced humiliating the remains of
thomas in front of sarah and jmj and tell them all how and what this
thomas licked off his iron pick and before matthew’d a chance or
sarah’d a chance or jmj who had wanted thomas to be his dad had
started sniffing his own fingers of blood kissed the iron bolts of his
school yard fence if his dad matthew been right about thomas having
had intercourse with jmj’s mom sarah then maybe he is is what junior
matty junior told himself to sleep let the record showed again this
thomas hadn’t so he couldn’t and no one had ever really liked matthew
anyhow except our thomas and this matthew and sarah’s eldest son
paul who would’ve killed to be the junior matty junior he couldn’t ever
be had never been for his father all the boys then been named after
apostles of a messiah when they hadn’t known what that could even
mean yet and girls like sarah and generations of the dying of funerals
for when no one had funerals any more buried their dead in the back
yard if they had one or what had been called public parks or green
belts fields the river banks the oldest woman in town named dorothy
she’d preferred dottie asked for her own monument the gall of her
considering the times at least a burial mound dottie screamed for my
beautiful things i wanna keep forever
but no one could lift much dirt
by then got hard to breathe being a liar this matthew told this thomas
in his mind every night and online and the town happened to put both
matthew and thomas on the effort to put dot the oldest woman in town
into the traffic berm where polk turned into the one sixty seven been
easier to dig into a hill then when all machines couldn’t be fueled and
not enough breath from long hauls and thomas rolled dorothy right
into a trench they’d dug together her body shrouded in twenty layers
of dresses she’d loved she wasn’t much there at the end matthew said
to thomas but thomas thought all them layers of dresses made her
a little more as she’d once been and this matthew and our thomas hired
to place the old woman in the traffic berm where polk stopped being
polk after they’d named roads all across the lands after dead white
men’s last names then more than any woman or other matthew said
her dresses will help break her down and thomas said i saw plenty of
mole tunnels
said they should keep the voles away voles’d tear her
dresses up for nests for sure
when no could have assured any of that
then was true any longer when all was being eaten by every living
thing left by then and thomas placed her in the berm with only the base
of an alabaster coral pink table lamp all her other beautiful things
matthew stole to leave for sarah each last night on the driveway one
at a time that’d been matthew’s driveway too and matthew said when
she caught him leaving a box of dottie’s finery silver wares no one
had a use for anymore and he said you know tommy licks his own piss
and shit off that thing
sarah turned a butter knife over and over in her
left palm she’d been left handed said yes i do but what she hadn’t said
to this matthew was i do too he wouldn’t known what to do with that
she’d thought and the data would predict that to be true and she’d
begun the night she turned seventeen the record shows she’d asked our
thomas in many ways up and down that whole night is how they’d said
it then and the record doesn’t reveal what words made a fat pale boy
thomas that night concede to share it with sarah been dark in his room
and he was high but sarah hadn’t had a lick of anything sober and
never since did she have to plead not ever not once again all the way
up until the night before sarah and matthew died they’d been running
out of space for bodies everywhere then but in a small town not long
before thomas died too he knew he could bury sarah and matthew both
in his own backyard and our thomas said nice words on the you record
and tubes about them both and didn’t mention sarah’s mouth once or
the other parts of sarah thomas loved since he’d been seventeen not
as long as matthew’d loved sarah it’d been told but not measured as
much thomas had or as much and more than he’d come to love his pick
certainly more than thomas loved any other person and that’d been
something and more than matthew thomas came to be certain of that
and thomas buried sarah on top of matthew like a little mound
normal to stack a family and thomas already buried several towns-
people on his property by then and paul and jmj had been able to be
there when thomas buried sarah and matthew and said a few words not
recorded and the boys would have known just how shallow sarah’d
been put in but in the record neither said anything and for his remain-
ing nights thomas went on to fit his iron pick in the ground above
sarah every night a new hole about half way in before he’d try to sleep
for all those nights that wouldn’t happen again until thomas died too
just as you all had but after sarah’s and before thomas’s last days
he’d loved the mornings most when a snail left behind a silver path
up and over and around his pick he’d leave it in the shoved in
the ground overnight for her and him every night his sarah wouldn’t
happen again in the record he pulled it out at sunrise chill in the air
for his last winter thomas would pull the snail his thumb on the
whorl of the shell stretching it’s foot off his pick nice and careful
thomas said before he’d place them back to sarah and matthew’s dirt
he’d look them in each eye at the end of a waving ocular tentacle to
say thank you to each one.




phi!ip james shaw creates communications on behalf of organizations dedicated to equity and access in health and education. He writes and paints and lives with his partner and dog-child in Port Townsend, Washington.

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