I Died and Went to Hell and Am Doing Sex with Ronald Reagan

Tasha Matsumoto

Dear Love,

The best part about fucking someone with Alzheimer’s is that every night is like he’s fucking me for the first time.

The best part about fucking someone with Alzheimer’s is the moment when his sleepy face, stooped heartward, looks up toward mine, desire like dying asteroids in his eyes, and though he can’t remember it, he understands that we just slept together, and I clap my hands and say, “President Granddaddy! Nana says I can eat some jelly beans if it’s okay with you!”

The best part about fucking someone with Alzheimer’s is when he’s trying to remember who I am and reads my face like some foreign cartography, then hands me a two-dollar bill because he thinks he’s just slept with an Oriental prostitute.

Dear Love,

The sky is the color of corpse here.

This is not true terra firma, but a land of always-frozen lakes and lunarscapes. We watch Bedtime for Bonzo on an old Super 8, the film projected onto a sloping snowbank, the camera lens flickering like an eye with a damaged optic nerve, the sound of celluloid unspooling, so much like the hummingbird heartbeat tick made by our bicycles when, Once Upon Our Time, we coasted down silent city streets.

Dear Love,

Ronald Reagan calls me Natasha and asks why my mother named me after a Communist. Natasha is the opposite of Tasha, but words here congeal like candy, saccharine and taffy-tongued. My mouth is becoming a metaphor. I might drink all the saline in the sea, if it could erase the taste of jelly beans.

Dear Love,

Yes, there is a river Here, but it is actually named REO Speedwagon.

Dear Love,

I pluck the petals from frostbitten violets and stain the skin around my left eye and ask Ronald Reagan, “Why did you hit me?” I try to cry, but my tear crystallizes in the cold, and not even sadness will trickle, trickle, trickle, trickle down.

Dear Love,

There is no way to render our words Here in any terrestrial tongue, as I am already forgetting how to speak in the past tense. Instead, we speak in verb tenses not yet invented back there in Once Upon Our Time, words of wishing and neverness, suffixes strung together, with syntax like the ice stalactites on a telephone wire. Darling, I’d like to write you reams, but in translation, all dactyls are lost among lavender.

Dear Love,

Necrophilia is just another word for wish.

I believe that you might find me here the way I believe in God and magic, which is to say, itinerantly yet not whatsoever, but might merely mistake belief for hope.

The thing is, the dove is already dead beneath the magician’s black cape; the blue lights of the tarmac are never not receding. Dear love, this I know is true: someday is the saddest word.

Synapses still shoot, but not the way stars do, no white wake of a comet tail streaming past, nothing to wish upon, the way we wished for the Guggenheim to scythe upward, for always, a sky-bound seashell.

TASHA MATSUMOTO teaches writing at the University of Utah. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Ninth Letter, Black Warrior Review, Redivider, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, and elsewhere.