A sestina. with the six repeating words chosen by jess, john & sveta.
He gets up every morning at 6am to walk the dog.
At this time of year, the ground is thick with frost –
the stars his guiding light. Walking feeds his soul
and prepares him for home, where she, and conflict
await. Ageing, she insists, is only bearable with Botox.
He thinks she should just stop drinking wine.
She sees a time-ravaged face. All he sees is wine
flushed skin. They argue constantly. She kicks the dog
(who cowers and hides), because of Botox.
He walks miles in the wind, frost
rain and snow – just to escape the conflict
raging on her lips and in her soul.
‘What,’ she screams at him, ‘do you know about my soul?’
Her face is tight with frown lines. Her teeth stained with wine.
Once, she was beautiful and kind and calm and conflict
meant war overseas. Not at home, in front of the dog.
But now? His no to Botox is a fist of frost
in their lives. ‘It’s only fucking Botox –
what is your fucking problem? Everyone gets Botox!’
The first time he saw her he thought: There She Is! My soul-
mate. Standing in the falling snow with frost
dusting her eyelashes. He bought them both glühwein
and she told him she wanted no kids. Just a dog.
He agreed. To everything. And foresaw a future without conflict.
They were so happy. Other couples had conflict.
Not them. Until the day she said, ‘I need Botox.’
He thought she was joking and said, ‘like the dog
needs Botox.’ She said, ‘I thought you knew my soul –
inside out.’ He said, ‘I think you are mistaking soul for wine.’
And just like that – they invited in frost.
Now, he remembers fairy tales about Jack Frost.
Frost – who demanded brave laughter in the face of conflict.
Who shunned gold, silks, furs, jewels, warm Tuscan wine
and would have frozen her breath and tears over Botox
saying: ‘Ageing is normal. Your soul
does not crave Botox, but the love of your dog.’
But she chooses wine. He chooses frost.
And the dog, embracing conflict
bites her face. She gets Botox after all. He loses her soul.