“You’ve lived a long life,” I tell her. Santa sits silently. The Florida afternoon air is warm and still, free of the heavy heat that will bare down in the coming summer. I look at her shrinking frame. She’s dying, I think, she might not make it till summer. The thought is fleeting but death lingers. It lingers in the wrinkles around her brown eyes. In the warmth of her skin when she places a cupped hand over mine. Inside of her legs that move a little slower. Inside of her words that come out a little breathless. Death is inside of her.
Yet, she smiles defiantly. Brilliantly.
*a work in progress
Q: Why did I read?
A: Because I wanted to go somewhere. I never went anywhere.
Your eyes are full with moonlight. Drinking down stars. Casting spells over plantation lands. Over palm tree fronds, over sour grass limbs brushing milky, midnight skies.
Gorge yourself on the small things God forgot. The plastic buckets that quietly congregate under shed tops. The clothesline that cut the night sky like slices of cake. The windows thrown open, hot air like God’s breath upon your skin. Sills were made for weary arms, for eyes that sweep across the uneven night. For lemonade and sweaty brows. For skin that soaks the universe in.
The moon shines dim, like your eyes. Shadows crawl out of night. Stretching. Growing. Like days that begin and end.
“Can I see the kittens?” I ask.
“wait,” he says.
He returns. Chest bare. Towel clinging to his waist. No kittens.
“Cats?” I ask.
“Soon,” he says. “Lay,” he pushes. I fall.
The bed is soft, the ceiling high. He blocks air, blocks light. Granny! He rubs himself against me, towel around his waist. Help, I’m scared. He grunts, grinds, and then goes still— breathing in my face.
“Wait here,” he says. I take flight, through the rooms, down the rickety stairs. I look back at him. He smiles. I cry. I am dirty, not like mud—-something you can’t clean.
You left, summer heat tracing silence in place of your voice, your laughter, your love. Your face became a canvas of splintered wood rotting down to dirt. You left me years after you left life. Seasons slipped by. Still, you haunted me when I least expected you. Still, I clung and cried like a child with scraped knees. At nights, I sometimes dreamt of you with no face, no voice, no memory of remembering you. But I do, a watery river reflection catching light too strong at high noon, easing into place as the ripples pan out. Eventually, you come together and I hold your face inside of my mind. And then, a pebble is tossed carelessly into the water and you are gone.
The sky rolls out it’s sunsoaked golden carpet down the skyline. We are hopeless, suffering, and laughing all at once. We watch. Isn’t it uncontainable? Bitterly beautiful? I pour my soul into the place where the vine entangled Spanish-moss pray like monks upon the flat valley. Side by side, they march, backs bent, heads bowed. It gets me drunk, leaves me lost on the rolling highways, down long roads collecting pieces of myself.
1: “You’re a thief.”
1: “A plague!”
2: “Maybe. But only at your making.”