A man folded his wife into three sections, put them in his pocket
and went walking by the sea. He touched her with his hand, which he
kept in his pocket.
Occasionally he would take her out and hold her to his face, as if
he were studying a picture from his wallet. Was the man cruel? No, he
had often heard her say that she wanted to be something small that he
carried in his pocket.
The wife thought that being folded into three sections was like
having sisters. Like looking at herself in a mirror with three panels. True
mirrors, not like the false ones that turn everything backwards.
As the sun was setting, the man took his wife out of his pocket.
He built a little mound of sand. He scooped out a moat around it, and
placed her on top like three cards on a table.
Sitting on the beach this way, his wife remembered her childhood
by the lake: the wet sand in her fist, cold then warm; her tin bucket, blue
with big white stars; her yellow shovel, its serious heft when she pried at
the sand. The playfulness of foam touched her ankles like the lacy hem
of a gigantic skirt. She could sit there forever.
Aware that she was in a private reverie, the man walked farther
down the beach. He brought her here often, although he disliked the
ocean. It was, as he once said to his wife, "too big." Perhaps next time
he would place her in an envelope . . . address it to himself. She would
Richard Garcia is the author of The Flying Garcias (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993). He has also written a bilingual book for children, My Aunt Otilia's Spirits (Children's Book Press). He has received fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. He received a 1997 Pushcart Parize, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares magazine, the Greensboro Award from the Greensboro Review and the Mudfish Prize. He is Poet-in-Residence at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.