Kristina Marie Darling
& Carol Guess

Use Extra Rooms Wisely

Our bedroom shared a foyer with another room, which had been cordoned off with a black velvet ribbon. The ribbon was loosely draped across the doorway, easy to dismantle, but we never did, although we often talked about it.

The space was filled with mementos, which had been left over from someone else’s marriage: a blender, a toaster, some photographs mounted in a book. They looked strange there, so close to our nightstand. We thought about selling it all in a yard sale, but you and I rarely did anything together anymore.

One night, when the house seemed to murmur with the most intricate music, you cut the velvet ribbon separating one room from another, their marriage from ours.

The space appeared to have been used as a museum of memorable objects: anniversary gifts, a wedding dress, the withered corsage from someone else’s prom. You were “overcome with melancholia.” It was your intuition, the kind of sixth sense some people have.

You began playing the most dismal songs on your makeshift guitar.[45] Their failed marriage haunted ours like a bejeweled specter, decked in some other woman’s pearl earrings and tennis bracelets.

That was when you filed the divorce papers.[46] I tried to repair the cut ribbon, but the damage had already been done.

Entice People To Explore The Whole House

After the affair, after the divorce, after the late low blooms’ unraveling,[49] I readied to sell our wall-eyed house. My job was cloud-based; I could live anywhere. I’d start with Aaron and end up in Zwolle.

Our house was haunted by intractable living: you with your smart phone; your new wife; her cat. You with your personal ads for a three-way. I was tempted to answer and show up in drag. I hired a realtor who’d grown up in Kansas. Our corduroy couch made her cover her mouth. She suggested I put all our stuff into storage, sleep on a cot I hid during the day.

The woman from Kansas was an expert in staging. No family photos, no catnip mice. No notes on the fridge, no paintings, no knickknacks. I kept clothes in a suitcase, laptop on my back.

She filled our empty house with fakes. Toothbrushes cluttered the trash with bright colors. She threw out your comb, last left strands of your hair. I bought French milled soap for strange hands in the bath.


[45] Melancholia. A state of mourning for the lost object.

[46] “She could no longer endure this bejeweled captivity. Within the next room I found a trinket shattered on the ledge.”

[49] Le remord. Translated from the French as “regret.”


Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirteen books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012),Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and (with Carol Guess) X Marks the Dress: A Registry (Gold Wake Press, 2013). Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Poetics at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo.
Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Tinderbox Lawn, Darling Endangered,and Doll Studies: Forensics. Forthcoming titles include two collaborations: How To Feel Confident With Your Special Talents (co-written with Daniela Olszewska) and X Marks The Dress: A Registry (co-written with Kristina Marie Darling). She is Professor of English at Western Washington University, and lives in Seattle and Bellingham, WA. Visit her online at