by R.C. Davis
Easels stood, watchful sentinels on the market sidewalk, defined by the surrealistic paintings pinned to their spindly bones. The artist sat motionless, her interest on the cigarette in her fingers. The smoke rolled skyward, no breeze to disrupt the moment. She could have easily been a self-portrait. I turned to walk away. Her voice rang in my ear, a sirens song. I was her Argonaut. The unsuspecting victim of a muse of the lower world. I was now trapped on a Berlin street, exposed for who I was—simply—a man.
She beckoned me to the second chair and I came to her. She offered me a smoke, cheap red wine in a plastic glass. I studied her. The blondest of hair. The bluest of eyes. Legs that never seemed to stop pouring out of her short denim skirt. She smiled back. Giggling, Sparkling. The paint under her fingernails tattled. A starving artist. Anguish disclosed on canvas. She talked, I listened. I talked, she laughed. She said she really liked me. I would be her special someone. She confirmed it with her perfect face. She was content to have captured a poet. Undoubtedly, I could understand her.
We sat in the dark as the market collapsed around us. Two people in chairs, a paint easel audience. Wrapping her work in linen, she twined it, leaving the stands to be manipulated by my hands. Then we walked to a Kreuzberg flat. A moment that was followed by a thirty-one day month. Where I slept, Coldplay pounded ‘Clocks’ into my head. I never got tired of the music. We didn’t have sex. I wasn’t going to let her kill my muse. So, we lingered in each other’s presence. Pleasantly. Affectionately. Intelligently.
Germany said my time had run out. I left her, reluctantly, hurtling back across the Atlantic. Landing in a place where one room awaited. A spot to touch down. A space where my fingers played across a keyboard, giving rise to rhythmic delineations, spilling onto white vellum. Allowing her virtues to become things, seen. She never released her hold on me—and I wouldn’t let her. Our words bounced off of satellites, back and forth in milliseconds.
I always knew what she wanted, and when she wanted me, I flew. Coming through the sliding glass doors, a passenger’s identity, the victim of flight attendant love. She took my hand. For a moment, she smiled. Embracing, she softly said my name. I had never heard Ulysses put that way. We rode the bus, climbing down at the Zoo. We walked. Berlin became dark streets, passing trains, strolling couples.
She led me to the roof of the Schoenberg platform. The S-Bahn rolled underneath as we lay on the rough metal of the canopy, heads pillowed on arms. We watched the moon and other heavenly bodies. We talked about how small they made us feel. As I lay pondering, her face became the sky and her eyes, the stars. Celestial lips found mine and I felt the change. The inspiration drained from me, to be replaced with void. Holding tightly to keep from free fall, I kissed her hard. Then, in nonlinear motion, we blasted off.
Our noise filled the air of a half-two morning, where voyeuristic windows looked down upon our passion. I always knew what she wanted, and when she wanted me, I…
Afterwards she took my hand and led me to the climbing down place, lamenting her need for coffee. Looking back, I thought I saw the lifeless body of the muse that I couldn’t save, sprawled out upon that dirty tin. She apologized for slaying my Erato. Laughing, she told me there was no room for two women in my life.
Now, there is a place in my head where Ligeia lives. I wonder if she still sits at the window of her Kreuzberg flat, watching the street, smoking. Moreover, I wonder if she misses me and if she was ever able to grasp the concept that a hopeless romantic, only loves Love.
R.C. Davis is a fiction writer and poet who lives and works in Iowa City, Iowa. While he grew up in the rolling hills that form the western banks of the Mississippi River, his interests in people, places, and genres are cosmopolitan in scope. His published works consist of The Light In The Window (Route 3 Press), Cane Pole Logic (Amber Waves of Grain-Shapato Publishing) and Snow Fall On Dead Leaves (Daily Palette-Iowa Writes). This also includes six poems, published in venerated collections throughout North America. R.C. has a passion for music & culture, and has backpacked Ireland, Scotland, England and the European continent, many times over.