Six Variations Upon Ayn Rand's Profession of Love for Her Husband, Each Concerning a Discrete Human Element

by Stephen M. Sanders

Asked if she believed she would see her late husband again after her death, Ayn Rand replied that if she did, she would have killed herself so that she could be with him again.

One time, I knew him–no longer.
It is simple. He did not go away.
He did not leave.
He stopped. There is nothing more.
It is simple.

I speak of nothing. I speak of the empty
spaces in front of me. I wonder why. I am not
heard. He cannot hear me. He cannot picture my face
as I picture his–even saying this supposes
that he is. He is not.

The impulse is to deny oneself
nothing. When I want a meal, I eat.
When I am thirsty, I take a drink. Frank
was not food. He was not contained in a cup,
like sweet milk poured from the icy pitcher.
How can I be satisfied?

Would it be prayerful
to use the second person–
to whisper to the dead
from under the sheets of
the quieted bed? That wisp
of a word–you–is not you,
but it might satisfy, instead.

Frank, if I could have lived
without you, I would have left
you–finished our insidious hook
and scrape of wanting, being wanted;
allowed my skin to stop feeling the air for you.

If I believed I would find you again–
after your long time away–I would whirl
into the chilly crowd where you’ve hidden,
come to you singing passion,
lay you in my breath of vapor.

Stephen M. Sanders lives in Levelland, Texas. He has an M.A. in English from Texas Tech University and a B.A. in English from West Texas A&M University. He’s been a teacher for nineteen years, and has finally finished the first draft of his first novel, Passe-Partout.