The way I see it, Diana, you know, I did you a favor, the way things were going I hate to say it, but I would have needed to kill you, reporters were flying in from New York and Los Angeles to interview you and write you up in magazines, you got your colored photograph all glamorous in Gentlemen’s Quarterly, couples we hardly knew were dropping by asking advice on their troubled marriages, all the Lesbians in town thought you were some kind of sage superwoman from your New Age healing book, oh everybody loved you in 1981 and you had such kindness and charm, you would take confused boys into our own home and feed them hot meals and let them play with your grown son Mike’s old drums, and street men who smelled like death would crash in the living room and you’d never ask for money, you believed in white magic and prayers and did rituals, a curandera you thought you were, but I was your man and knew the dark bruja inside and the arrogance I saw that others did not see.
Diana oh my beautiful black haired Diana, I stayed in the corner and kept my mouth shut so you could be the star, so that you could light up our rooms I made myself smaller and smaller and said barely a word, and people who’d been my friends left to become your friends, you had that much charm, you were filled with so many smiles, why I’d leave you and come back, leave you and come back, you worked such love witchery on me I began to forget my own dreams, to forget I might have a talent for something besides selling cars, you were that good, so loving and sweet on the surface you know but like I said I felt I had to kill you, and only I understood your dark moods when you slept for days, especially when you couldn’t find any marijuana to smoke, but finally I got the strength to leave for good and moved to a far city, I slept in my car, I was alone and knew no one, with boxes of clothes in the trunk, I never guessed you might fall apart, I got reports you could barely move and wouldn’t get out of bed and were drawing mythical animals with sharp teeth in your journal, a side of me was sad, a side of me was glad, my body hurt so much for you, I got drunk, and then I heard you were living on the streets after you couldn’t pay the rent, but I knew you through and through, knew your strength, and knew so many loved you and would help, so you got herself together and live in the country now in a trailer on an old Bastrop commune, where I hear you took up the accordion and found a new boyfriend, and I found I had talent for things on my own, I cut lawns and saved money and got a real estate license and started selling houses, helping people make their dreams come true, yes, I too could give and love and gradually I grew surrounded by those who gave and loved back, like you have been surrounded Diana, and I know you’ll keep in confidence all that I’ve said in this letter, and you know I live a happy life and a side of me will always love you. It was better that I went away and that I did not turn a killer.
Thank you, Diana, for saying you’d marry me so long ago right out of high school, and for taking me the long journey through the underworld, like we learned about in high school English class together our senior year when we first dated, so I could learn so much about life and love and grow to stand on my own.
Chuck Taylor won the Austin Book Award for his work, What Do You Want, Blood? He worked as a poet–in-residence for the City of Salt Lake, was a part-owner of Paperback Plus in Austin, has operated Slough Press for 41 years, teaches creative writing at Texas A&M/College Station, and has published novels, books of poetry, and memoirs.