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Home: The Toast

F.J. Bergmann’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.

Meet and Marry a Gorgeous Russian Queen
—a spam subject line

To win her, you must learn the language
of birds. You Google to find out just what kinds
of birds migrate between here and Siberia.
You will build her a crystal castle of salt,
dried from pure, sweet tears that you wept
in disappointment over celebrity porn
viruses and fraudulent penis extenders.
Even on the paid matrimonial websites,
she is the only truth shining among thousands
of false promises like a genuine gold crown
surrounded by rhinestone tiaras—or a shark’s
mouthful of yellowing teeth—and she looks
damn good in those dollar-store bras she bought
with the money you sent her for airfare.
Each successive e-mail has an explanation
for why she still doesn’t have enough for the visa,
like an egg you crack open to find another egg
enclosing still-smaller eggs. The final egg
is Fabergé, with a jeweled window where you look
inside to see a little cottage with a tiny garden
and a couple holding hands. She has a doctorate
in chemical engineering but you assure her
you are completely, totally healthy and drug-
and alcohol-free. Anyway, she’ll never know
if you’re careful to always undress in the dark.
She can cook anything, as long as it’s not lentils,
and you promise she won’t need to cook.
You plan to treat her to McDonald’s at least twice
a week and you’ve got a whole case of ramen
noodles left over from the Y2K stash. You even
hauled last year’s Xmas tree to the curb, adorned
the mailbox with plastic flowers, and swept
the sidewalk in front of the house every day
for a year in anticipation of her arrival.
You decide not to tell her about the foreclosure
until she’s gotten used to the place a little more.
She steps down from her hut on chicken legs
with a faintly amused smile, as it crouches
to take a crap in the next-door neighbor’s yard.
She looks something like her photograph
and you are beginning to wish you’d changed—
or at least washed—your I’m With Stupid t-shirt.
“Hi there,” you say, with a bashful grin. Her accent
is adorable but a bit difficult to understand.
She is saying something about deception; or, more
likely, conception: women always want kids. And
something about Las Vegas, and—you’re pretty
sure about this one—getting a gift horse.

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F.J. Bergmann writes poetry and speculative fiction, often simultaneously, which can be found in The 5-2, Black Treacle, Lakeside Circus, Right Hand Pointing, Silver Blade, and elsewhere. Editor of Star*Line and poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change; recent awards include the 2012 Rannu Prize for poetry and the 2013 SFPA Elgin chapbook award.

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