Merry Widow
by Gina Abelkop

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Setting

Dustbowl Depression-era America, rural. Flat flat flat far as forever.
Everything parched and coughing, waiting for Girl to enter.
Dun color scheme, all scenery caked in crumbling earth.

Characters

Girl: placid lapis-eyed thing, Pisces, slick like sea
and just as curled up at the edges

bone-thing: you’ll see

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

ACT I

 

Prologue

Girl: Afterwards my gut is pinched in; a slut. bone-thing appears
twice in one day under the guise of carnage. I watch it twist
and caw on the porch, extend neck towards spazzing
light bulbs. It performs for me-- hobbled ballet on sycamore
planks and a fistful of down between teeth.
Teeth, it reminds me, are for cornering wet bitches in-- then stops:
I’m hooked.

 

--------------------------------------------------for cornering wet----------------
--------------------------------------------------------- bone-thing on the porch,
me, mammal--------------------------------

-------------------------------------------------It was last night or the night before., or

was it eleven years ago?

For cornering wet bitches in cooed at just the right pitch after impalement
leaves me drooling on the ground, pathetic. Bone-thing gets off
on my tawdry spilling and settles into the porch swing for a show:

 

Scene One

Girl: When performing I put on the glitz,
wriggly ductile hips bucking
while my left hand goes for blood!

I sure do like a bone-thing who can gab like THAT!

Girl turns her right wrist next to her face, which is pushed into the floor. Ass in the air,
calves stretched taut in heels.

(crowing) “For cornering wet bitches in!”

Girl sits back up slowly, realizing something.

No…it came in March. I was elated----------------------------------------------------

Before I hung out loose as the swing of an arm; now all tight I preen good.
Slather on some girl colors still fixed like that. (in sing-songy, mean voice, mocking) Bone-thing likes to watch! Rise up and tangle like muscle! (girl relaxes again, internal)

Something different is in me.

This is how: on the dry, dry sand bone-thing lay,
light-bleached and solemn. When I walked through one day
it was weeds for miles, it was a town, it was dry. And bone-thing
wasting there alone. It followed me home and afterwards I was a slut,
I was pinched in

 

Scene Two

Girl: Morning comes on wired smoke. I wake up late now
and let the day seep in tangentially--------------------------\
----------------------------------------------------------------------- oh for a Sunday,
smoke wired on ten dollars and turquoise smoke!

Morning, (smoky): You’ve really done it this time.

Girl: It was Sunday, I thought? Afternoon?

Mother, (pansy): I sure do love a bone-thing who can reminisce like THAT!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

bone-thing: “In depression-era Kansas I, bone-thing, was borne from clear eyes and salt.
On the plain-- prairie, if you’re nasty-- I rose from a mutant carrion, all parched
and in need of some warm, wet affection. I was the first of my kind and so call
myself religion, call myself eager, call myself bone-thing like a mountain trophy.
It’s catastrophic, isn’t it, the way people latch onto the dead? In my case I claim
parched throat and natural curiosity for the living. You don’t choose who births you.

Teeth are for cornering wet bitches in, I told her. It made sense at the time; I‘d
just risen from rot. She found me out there arid as the moon. I couldn’t let go,
I was thirsty. She learned something. Hooking a sallow claw around her padded
ankle I was dragged for miles before we got home, before I let her in on creation,
before she began speaking in bone-tongues with her torso thrust up at the stars
like a slut.”

 

Scene Three

Girl: It was so good with bone-thing!

I could really use…(thinking hard, distracted)

But I forgot all about the plains,
stretched out far as hell
but never thinning, always
flat and dry, dry, dry. (sighs with a romantic happiness)

…oh yes, just that!

bone-thing: “So I’m some sort of interlocutor, harbinger of tunnels and other tricky twists.”

 

Scene Four

Girl: It was so good writhing there
in the dust; we just stayed.

Crime was a bridle then, braided and oiled.

Coiled around this wet bitch bone-thing dug in: For cornering!
Figure in the wood grain rubbed loose at dusk-- it came
and I was hallowed, it came and I was loose.

Scene Five

Girl: I get lonely on the plains-- no, desert--
rubbing my back against the grass-- no, dust--
so I can feel texture, sticky cactus
color slimed across my thighs in streaks.

But it’s better to be with.

It’s just… the brutal, trembling nowness
of plains. I wish I were there. I dream about it.
Do you see it, long even
ground spackle over years?--------

Seven uneven tallies on the calendar flattened by ink.

bone-thing: “I did see it, let her paint it for my benefit while she ran wet sponges
over me, all I’d ever wanted since birth. Just because
I’d been wanting for such a short time doesn’t make the wanting
any less. Just packed into a tighter timeframe, the antique silver
of pre-war country. I saw and was whetted and wedded----”

An Explanatory Intermission: On the Perfect Marriage Between bone-thing & I

Girl: So bone-thing is telling you all about it, the way we got down to business right there over the desiccated flesh of some long passed animal. What bone-thing doesn’t speak to are the dates (Friday? Saturday? It was ______, I thought?), the exact moment that I have been trying to pin down this whole time, a rumpled mark laddering down my soft calf.

It must have been a weekend. And I called on the sea as gull to beach all night long. But if there isn’t something tacked on the tree, a note or ticket stub or grainy photograph, what do we call memory? Now I call it “sea” and float around on dainty mist. bone-thing came to me when I needed it and I call that gratitude. When bone-thing yielded to the splintered space behind my knees, tattered merry widow torn at the cunt and flapping satiny, I forgot about days of the week, the twenty-four hour system, light switches flicked up or down. I pooled slowly into the sea which was days away, twinkling river of me expanded outwards in good, briny faith.  As I smooth bone-thing with a cool wash cloth, up and down the length of its cracked, brittle body, I get calm. The blistering catapult towards future is briefly sewn shut, and here I sit, storytelling.

 

Scene Six

Girl: I sure do love---------------------!
                                          -----------------------------------------------------
bone-thing: Like that?

Girl: Just. But always desire, shrink expand bleed
around the edges, no lip liner on this one.

bone-thing, (misty-eyed, romantic and sappy): Girl, I love you
heavy as Larimar. Let’s call love “sea”
and make home among vicious pines, bones
of the soil flammable

Girl: You always do know just the shade
of blue to get a Girl really hot
and bothered, bone-thing. I can see
you like us better now, quick violet banter
spinning us whirlpools.

(All the while bone-thing is grating itself
against the prairie, chomp chomp chomp of hard dirt
against spine. Girl sits roughly two feet away, eyeing
the scene like crazy, pupils big as tulips. Every so slightly
her clumsy, pink right hand begins to curl, uncurl, curl, uncurl
curl, uncurl, stretch stretch stretch--------------------------------
            --------------------------------------------------

 

Scene Six, Again

(Setting: We’re mid-conversation with Girl
and bone-thing. Girl is explaining her rescued
first love, fetid avian corpse tucked like a dolly
in a miniature wooden dream house for two weeks
before she‘s found out. In her nose still, bodysweet
odor of perish.)

bone-thing: But if you love birds so much then why
are they always rapes?

Girl: A bird isn’t a rape, bone-thing. A bird is avian,
skybound and feathers.

bone-thing: Birds are always crawling into you,
making a fat, murky nest in your cunt. I don’t
want to point bones, Girl, but I think I know
better about ravaged insides than any old you.

Girl: ---------------------------------------
                                                            ----------------------------- (silently smoldering)

bone-thing, (batting lashes): birds are rapes just as much
as I love you.

Girl, (blushing petunia): It doesn’t take much to make a Girl smile
these days.

                        Shiny, shiny rocks off-------------------------

 

Scene Seven

bone-thing: I don’t like being brittle any more
than you like being jazzed up on false hope.
I think a deal can be struck. I think what we call fate
can be averted, or at least tangled so permanently
we forget the possibility ever existed. I’m making
a proposition here, Girl. Solid as bone.

Girl (wary): --------------------------------
--------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
------   yes    --------------------?

(Stands up to speak)

Once I was a ballerina-
doesn’t the word sound good?
The image look better?
It was a thing to do
in darling dresses --
I did it poorly.
Frocks the best part, ten little swans (quickly counting ten on her fingers).

(saccharine sweet) O bone-thing! This lover of mine
sure does love a girl
who can tangle like that.

This is a fine time for high tea: hook and eye,
baby fine. Slip of a handkerchief between teeth.

bone-thing: “She told me some rough-edged murky things,
all this whispered somewhere shallow-- it’s fuzzy,
you see, the conjuring of it-- the day, balding.

If fortune brought her to me then remonstrance
pinned me between her eyes: I started out
with nothing. Crept out of flesh already passed,

lay still ‘til her. Every thought was gold
as an egg. I was easy. Then her ankle
between my claws a pillow, her stories

sunk fast in me. Now
I just drag myself around watching
her play: living a portal, astro-projected

self. The silver’s getting thinner, prairie
dust churning bullwhipped at noon. When
she says ‘ballerina’ I think ‘field.’ Meanwhile,

sexing up local territory with a rose in her hair.
And where do you get a rose around here anyway?
Cheap tramp. Fickle flirt.”

 

Scene Eight

(Setting: There’s Glass growing out
of the ground instead of grass. Nobody’s bloody
but it’s 11 years ago, some day, some month. You
do the math, as they say. Girl’s thirteen or fourteen
with a flat little chest, real skinny, blonde bob. Bra’s
a 32A and still too big so she safety pins the front.
Things are getting really exciting and far-away….oh
just you wait!)

bone-thing: “I wasn’t there-- most likely being born in a meadow
somewhere. Came out wet.”

Girl: I’ve gotta stay hidden here------
                                                           
bone-thing: “She killed a man.”

Girl (dead serious, addressing audience): If bone-thing’s got a hold on you I’m applause.
If bone-thing’s got a hold on you I’m kissing.
If bone-thing’s got a hold you you better believe it.
If bone-thing’s got a hold on you it’s telling a story.
If bone-thing’s telling a story it’s mine.

(cattily, teasing) For cornering wet bitches in: mine, now.

And now who’s getting off?






ACT II

 

Scene One

Girl: bone-thing was bad--
made me tell him my moany,
my triple rich nightmare.

What a bad thing, bone-thing!
Now you’ve hurt me, now you’re smug.
Now this, bone-thing: a secret gnawing undoing.
A sleep raid, shiny and azure under fallow moon.
We sleep, bone-thing, so we can rise;
We rise like moonthings all turgid and together.

(smiling all evil and cunning, condescending like talking to a whiny child) And then I think, “poor bone-thing”

“poor poor bone-thing--”

And then I keep at the gnawing,
My head meeting feet.

I stick each cracked bit in a dovecote spot,
I lick each one with a spit shine lust-tongue.

(In the mirror, rosewood dresser
waylaid with gardenias wilting in the dust.)

Girl, (looking herself in the eye): I don’t like to be made
to blush. And now you know-------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------
Bone-thing, I want you dead, worm fed.
Gonna get merry in your wake,
splintered ivory slices of you
shoved through my pink little ears.

(elated, like a child on the way to a circus, clapping) Bone-thingery. Merry widowry.

(Girl winks with one glinting, watery eye)

 

Explanatory Intermission on the Nature of Mariticide

Girl: Murderer of light! That thing. That bone-thing. Bone-thing thinks it’s so easy to get a Girl and keep her-- pawn out her secrets to the watching, changing sky. I’ve a lesson: a gutted moon looming secretly at dusk; when it’s just turning, the spit shook and free.

That is the first lesson I have to tell you. The second is easier: a dull blade in the gut is still a blade. A thing does not become a thing unless you take it in the folds of your innards and house it there sweetly. I didn’t take bone-thing in ‘til he’d already took and then I let him sweet talk me. His sweet talk nipped at my ankles. I am easily agitated; when somber I give in easily like sulking child or miffed dog.

Fine and well but bone-thing underestimated the secret of me, the stiff bit in my mouth, matrimony-made believer and pro-active advocate of love.



Scene Two

Girl/bone-thing: (simultaneous) I want to leave my body, burn it, and become sky-lifted. The perfect underside of my thigh. I sleep in my bloodied bed. You can watch your own self fill up like a tub! And spill over, and kiss.

(Girl/bone-thing rises and grinds, rises and grinds into the dirt, smack smack of bones stabbing at the soft part that is still only Girl.)

Girl/bone-thing (howling, still grinding): Yes! Yes! Yes! This is the fortune, appleseed make believe born in this desert like a claw, like a….BONE-THING!! I want it I want it I want it I want it (like a chant, over and over, in rhythm with grinding, but desperate, sad like losing something that‘s occupied your heart forever, punching and smacking at the ground)

Girl: (singing) Angela Angela Angela Lou…if only I’d have a daughter. Not a blackroot, harsh route arrowroot, sack of bones clawed onto me like death hanging from an apple tree. I’d have cooked her a large meal. One with bones…and they’d have been bright! The way most bones aren’t./

bone-thing, simultaneously: (breathing heavily, consistently, it‘s a struggle, it‘s tired, dying slow, slow thrusting) I want it I want it I want it I want it






ACT III

 

Bone-thing is laying discarded by the side of the stage, barely an afterthought. Girl has birthed a creature all her own, is holding her and rocking her. Girl is covered in blood, looks like she’s been in a struggle.

Scene One

Girl, (cooing at her baby, sing-songy): My Angela Angela Angela Lou, baby fine child. Perfect and bright and smooth as the moon, careful new thing of mine. Angela Angela Angela Lou, I have a story for you: a missive to hold to your dovecote heart and keep there thrumming like a motor.

(singing; this is a song)

Angela Lou, there are nightmares.

Angela Lou, there are meany things.

Angela Lou, when you get pulled into a nightmare stop there’s a seizing that takes place. An earnest, cawing sky will pick you up and throw you back down to the ground again.

But Angela Lou, you’re a fence around yourself that breaks water, heat, dandelion,
evening.

Angela Lou, I love you, I love you I love you I love you I love you

Angela Lou, let’s make a desert room. Let’s put our things together in a mystic mountain shape, a sand shape, a dust shape wrought fine in gold colors.
You’re my  baby thing, Angela Lou (I call you!)

You’re my heart thing, Angela Lou (I called you! And you came!)

(song ends)

This bit of bone buried in your peachy skin…it reminds me of something….Angela? Lou? Do you remember? I don’t know, I’ve been here, alone, for so long.

I remember-- well, only a little. Like I remember that we were…in…Georgia? We met under a willow tree? There were big, squalid albino roaches crawling all over the stove? Anyway, something like that.

Did you say bone-thing? Something? No, no, I remember a thing but not the one you’re thinking of… I mean talking about… I mean…telling me about. Are you sure that’s what you mean? Mostly I remember greenery, flowers, swamp heat. Oh yeah, absolutely, it was hot. I don’t care. I have Angela Lou now, my sweet little sharp heat baby. She looks like me! Just like me! Isn’t she something? No, not bone-thing, that not what I said, I said something. Something like me!

(a quiet begging) I’ve been here, alone, for so long.

I became alone. I’ve been here, alone, for so long.


Scene Two

How long have you been here?

Girl: A long time.

Were you alone?

Girl:---------------------------------------- (looking sly, pissed off)

Were you alone?

Girl: There was something…

Were you alone?

Girl: Not exactly?

But how long have you been here?

Girl: How long have I been here? (confused, pausing)

I’ve been here a long time.

(very accusatory, pissed) And I see you looking at me! Don’t think I don’t see you, proud and eyeballing.

I have a baby girl now, you see that?

Do you see her, sitting near me all lovey dove dovey because she’s my dear dove of love?


(a refrain, taped and on a loop in the background in small, crackling voices, a creepy, tinny choir: “Milk milk baby water milk milk baby water milk milk baby water milk milk baby water milk milk baby water”)