I placed the tent between the cornrows and tomato vines. The Virgin Mary sat behind the tent, arms outstretched, eyes gazing down to the earth. It was in a garden where her son sweated droplets of blood upon the ground before disappearing. I thought about moving her out of the garden, thinking it might put her at ease. She declined, saying that such things never ease.
* * *
“Fuck you!” my wife said.
It was all very familiar, the blood on her hands, the blood on her thighs, the black bloody sac floating in the toilet, same as the last time and the time before that.
“It’s going to be ok honey,” I said.
“No, it’s not.”
“We’ll keep trying.”
“No we won’t.”
Objects were thrown from the shower, a bar of soap, a shampoo bottle, various lotions and hair products; things I could not see until they hit me on the head, chest, and balls. Various insults followed each object: Fuckstick, Shitbag, Dickweed, that sort of thing.
She finished showering and walked naked to the bedroom. She shut the door, latched the lock, unlatched the lock and opened the door and told me if I didn’t leave the house she’d castrate me. I believed her. I grabbed the bloody sac from the toilet and buried it in the garden beside the other two. I crawled inside the tent and fell asleep.
* * *
I woke at midnight to a whimpering sound. Soft at first, almost a whisper, it transformed to a dismal wailing. I fumbled with the entry flap but the zipper got stuck so I tore at the mesh opening until the hole was big enough for me to squeeze through. That’s when I saw the ghost. A fluid whiteness drifting across the front yard toward the stream that separated the yard from the woods. The ghost stopped at the edge of the stream, limbs emerging from its whiteness — arms, legs, fingers, feet, toes; long blond hair glowing in the moonlight. The ghost — my wife — a white sheet draped over her naked body — knelt down and submerged her head in the water. She stood up and pulled the top of the sheet across her face like a veil and drifted back across the yard with the knotted sheet slithering behind her in the grass and she walked inside the house. I crawled back in the tent and unzipped the rear window. I saw the face of Mary and felt comforted by her sorrow. I fell asleep and dreamed of her, of Mary. Her kiss. Her tongue was sweet, her breath warm and fallow, like the earth after a rain.
* * *
The air was cooler on the second night in the garden. I heard the sound again, the whisper and the wail. I poked my head through the entry and I saw the ghost hovering midway between the stream and the garden. The rain came suddenly in tiny pellets. The wind gusted. The white sheet fell to the ground. My wife stood naked and shivering in the cold air. She touched her breasts, her nipples hardening as she sobbed in the darkness. She raised her arms above her, grasping for something in the empty air, then pulled her hands close to her face and gazed wondrously at nothing. She walked to the stream and gathered water in her cupped hands and then she turned and walked toward the garden. I watched through the entry flap; watched as she drank the water; watched the water drip from her chin down into the soil; watched as she placed her hands between her thighs; watched her fingers slide inside of her as her neck arched violently backward. She collapsed to her knees and crawled inside the tent and kissed me. I turned her over, kissing her neck, her breasts, her belly, down into the fold of her thighs, down into the swelling heat as she began to shake and shiver, as she sobbed in great wailing spasms, as she placed my head gently across her belly and told me not to move, to never move, to stay there forever.
* * *
My wife and I stood naked in the garden at dawn.
“I thought you were a ghost,” I said.
“Crazy,” she said. “Sleeping pills.”
“Do you remember anything?”
She wrapped her arms around her chest and made that whimpering sound.
“I remember seeing you,” she said. “Seeing you from a great distance. Then you were gone.”
“I was right here.”
“What happened to our babies?”
“What happened to our babies?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are they here?”
A mourning dove landed on the head of the Virgin Mary, followed by its mate,
each preening the other’s feathers before flying away.
“I don’t know what those things are. Were.” I said.
“Those things that came out of you. I can’t make sense of them.”
“You don’t have to.”
“So what do I do?”
“Nothing!” she screamed.
“I don’t know how to do nothing.”
“It’s easy. Just stand here with me and shut up and know that I loved them.”
I looked at my wife. I looked through her eyes. I became the ghost and she the flesh and blood I could not see.
A thin white mist hovered over the stream. My wife walked to the middle of the yard and picked up the white sheet. She draped the sheet over the Virgin Mary. She took my hand and pulled me inside the tent, pulled me inside of her, deep inside of her as the white sheet shuddered in the breeze.