Marlene

 




Marlene

He was married

with a small house on the river

It was a mess, cluttered and dirty

forgotten, neglected, like his wife

Her name was Marlene

she had Alzheimer’s, or dementia, or some other mental curse

But she was still coherent, at least a little

coherent enough to know I was sleeping with her husband

He was short, with longer, shaggy hair, ten years older than me

He was dirty, but it was from being a working man

Not dirty like his house

He wasn’t even “my type”

Then again, I’ve had a hundred types 

I’ve settled for a hundred more

But I loved the water

so I went to his home, to sit with him by the river

Marlene, not completely lost in her mind

ran at me, screaming

Her thick, gray hair wild and untamed 

like a feral cat

A woman driven mad by illness and infidelity

He grabbed her just before her attack

calming and soothing her with a soft voice I had not heard before

And then he kissed her

It was passionate, unbridled 

I watched in awe, in envy, in disgust 

as their faces made love

And I ran

The next day, after work

there was an envelope on the windshield of my car

Inside was a note

“Meet me at the falls near my house”

and a key

I parked on the side of the road

where the trail would take me to the base

of the town-famous river falls

It was exceptional, 200 feet of cascading water

cleaved by nature’s fury some time long ago

He was there, waiting at the bottom

He told me the key was mine

it was a copy, for his new apartment 

“What about Marlene?” I asked

“She’ll need someone to care for her”

And as if produced by our words,

Marlene appeared atop the crest

We could hear her screaming

even over the noise of the falls

The last lights of day shone through her white nightgown

Blown about by the wind

Her dull, gray mane 

made bright and silver and beautiful

swirling around her face

She was luminous, a visage

She seemed to float, just for a moment

When she leapt from the precipice

to the jagged, unforgiving ground below

Cascading, like the falls

Beautiful and angry