Into the Glistening

Supine, his shoulders drive against the cool silt,

and I am there, blocking out the stars as I make

my way slowly, bit by bit, with a gentleness

I know he’s forgotten.

 

Our mouths meet with every push and pull

– like magnets guiding us into perfect limerence.

And for the first time, there are no words.

No words.

 

His lungs expand, and his willing heart doubles.

He sends himself deeper, and his low, sonorous

keening fills my mouth. He’s here. He’s close.

I won’t stop.

 

With measured breath, I move against the

languor of eventide. With our lexicon of

resistance, I ask him again and again, and

he answers each one of my calls with

greets of surrender.

 

He gives me, without pause, that which is mine,

and he calls the rest his own: all that he’s

touched, and all that he has yet to discover.

Only me, he says. Only mine.

No one else.

 

Every movement is a query bringing him closer

to freedom, wanted or not. He clutches and

shields me against the peril of his yearning, and

I move against our confines, burying us further

into the glistening.

 

The quivering warmth funnels down, resonating

through the hush of the chamber. And there is a

calm in everything. A spectacular dance of phosphenes.

Welcome home, I tell him.

 

Pour Mon Bzou

It came in rushes, then slowed – that longing for a place that wasn’t enough. Her skin glowed around his shadow, and with her ear to his heart, she let it pulse.

It was a trap, but not a trap. It was an epoch of abundance. An embarrassment of words, tongues, and gods; all of them unforgiving. Déshabiller du regard. Je veux te déshabiller du regard. She didn’t know if her tongue could do that. If a tongue can be a god, is that too much? There is no too much.

His hands were his method of divination. His words fluttered, and threatened. How did he plan to betray her, if not like that? She would no longer be his, this man who ruled with an iron wand.

Oceans closed.

“Crush my enemies, and I’ll revere you,” he told her, but he was his only enemy, and it kept her wakeful. “Do I have to send you to bed, L’Aigle Noir?”

They shot glances at each other like arrows, daring the other not to flinch, and succumb to their story; a tale that weaved blades of dry grass through fear, then arousal, then back to fear again. How can you know what makes a spirit burn? To not feel the sting is either very lucky, or unlucky. She changed her mind often.

He discovered there was a word she did not have, so he tried to teach her. Elle est troublante – like a volcano blooming. “Can a volcano bloom?” This was the afterthought, as he watched her float across the horizon.

And so they waited. Delayed. Paused. But didn’t postpone. Never that. They played at the edge, getting closer and closer. There was falling and catching. There was stumbling.  Tu me manques. J’ai envie de toi. J’ai envie de te toucher.

He kept track, and she lost track. When the strands were drawn together, they forgot so that they could start again. They wanted to get lost and not find their way back. But they weren’t too far gone. They were barely far enough. But alas, they arrived at a spark, unwavering, and dense.

Time stopped.

“It’s as if you are missing a heart,” she told him. “You can share however you’d like to share, but do share.”

“There is no hiding. I am missing a heart,” he said. “We were fledglings, unwise, and now we’re worse. I could die any minute. That I do not want, except a little; la petit mort.” How quickly they hatched, matured, mated, and perished. A life ephemeral.

A blaze of epiphany. Like baneberries in dim light, he could not have imagined the whites of her eyes. Her stare caught his flaws, like fireflies in a bell jar, and his good fortune wandered off like a gypsy.

“I felt it,” he professed, “but I kept it deep down in my heart where it’s dark, and didn’t tell you.”

She kept walking, and didn’t look back to see the anguish and devilry that lit up his face.

“Like you said,” he called after her, “Pour mon bzou.”

 

Mapa da Boa

She guides him to shore, at the south end of the archipelago, and he uncovers the map in a place where beauty never lies. “There is a very thin line that sometimes I fail to see,” he tells her, and slowly he builds a bridge between what he feels and what he understands. Together they will travel there and back again.

She wriggles her bottom into the cool sand and encourages the fray at the hem of her skirt, as she watches him smooth the delicate bronze surface. His eyes dance as he tries to decipher each symbol, and his hands trace each line of longitude and latitude, pausing at the places where they meet, and she unravels.

It’s a map not unlike other maps, but his hands are methodical, and his gaze pushes deep. His heavy heart pours over every inch, and he sees what others haven’t. “I know I shouldn’t say, but, your eyes…” he tells her. “I have to focus, to not get lost.” The way he says it, makes other men sound hollow, like conch shells. Disoriented, but trusting, he tucks her voice into his shirt pocket to be his compass. “Keep helping me, woman,” he whispers along with her soft sounds.

At ten paces away he already misses her scent. Her thoughts. The way his hands might rest on her hips. “Keep me close,” she calls to him. “Yes, I’ll keep you,” he informs her as he rolls up his sleeves, “But only the brave dares into the unknown, seeking the new.” She carries his words to the far corner of the map, where she bathes.

She soaks in the current, and he notices that when she’s silent, she looks down to her right, to wonder. His attentive grasp makes her cheeks blush rouge and she casts her eyes downward, in her favorite cardinal direction. “Also…” he adds, “Your lips… they tremble slightly before you bite them.” Flustered, she says it’s the biting that makes her lips tremble, not the other way around. “That, I do not know,” he muses. “I saw it not just once, and possibly more than twice – but I know you do not tremble for the casual.”

***

When daybreak comes, he feels naked, and yet there are still many miles between them. “Be as good as you’d like to for me,” he tells her. She warms, and in her mind she is good. “You have my full attention,” she tells him, but his coyness makes him look away, and so she does the same for him, giving him a place to be. “No, keep watching,” he tells her. “The shyness will leave, and then something else will arrive.” He sees a wave of tension wash over her. “Don’t be afraid of me,” he implores. “Let me be afraid of me.” But she wasn’t afraid of him. She was afraid of the things that were not him. But as always, the gap was still there, and the bridge was not yet built. What was the catalyst? He did not know, but it was undeniably happening.

“Three senses to go,” he reminds her, and she imagines checking off each box. “I could kiss you goodbye now,” he mused. “Both sides. Left, and right.” But, would that be both taste and touch? Neither of them ask out loud. “A good kiss can stop a clock. And a heart,” she whispers over his shoulder, and over the sound of the empty shells. “Find me soon,” she tells him. “I’ve found you once already,” he reminds her.

She is the last thing he thinks of when drifting off, the first thing when he wakes, and everything in between. He wishes he would have murmured these things into her ear, while still in the place of half-sleep, but now he can only tell her with his eyes. “You should have looked for me there,” she speaks to his silence. “That’s where you would have found me.”

He looks East then West, and wonders how often she must get lost. How many times must he continue to find her? “I believe you are always found. I just happen to tell you,” he assures her, resting his cheek against her forehead, “But those things that I find with you, are sometimes almost unbearable.”

“But do you enjoy the unbearable?” she asks, hopeful. “I want whatever can be,” he confesses. “Both the affliction and the cure.” His words rang in her chest, and it took her back to where she dwells –amidst the push and pull, the call and response. It was their dance, and they moved with the tides. “But the details, how they slay!” she wails, as the first one struck deep. It made her legs buckle, and brought her to her knees, in the wet sand. He’s fond of reciprocation, you see.

***

He reads the map when she sleeps, and then reads it again. When he awakens her, they begin to build a confessional from all that they have. A sacred place, where words can be stripped bare. A sanctuary for thirst and ambition. “How long can you wait?” he asks. Her heartbeat matches his pauses, because never is too long. “If you stare like that, not long at all,” she replies with eyes blazing aquamarine.

At nightfall, they cross a bridge into their place of abandon, where she confesses, and he absolves her eager heart, again and again, in a language not her own. He will demand more confessions until his head swims in them, because he is her salve, and she is his Isolde.

He reminds her that absolution does not come without sacrifice, and peril, so she stands close to the wall of inhibition – their own prime meridian – and she understands what she must relinquish in order to give. “Come closer, still. Tell me dearly,” he whispers urgently until she leans in far, and shows him those unwritten parts of the map. He kisses every scar, and they bless the darkness that shields them. They vow to never find their way back.

“Do you love me in these hours?” she asks, as he re-discovers each region. “I don’t know time with you,” he tells her. “You are always with me, whether you want it or not. You are now forever responsible for what you have tamed, and what you have set free.”

When the fever dissipates, he watches with graceful sorrow, as she wades out far into the wine-dark sea, and turns to look back at him. “I will find you,” he assures her. “I always do.”

 

The Dirty Little Shrine

He wanders down the path for the not undeserving, to a place where sometimes is enough. A place where electricity surges and hums through his chest, as the yellow light filters down through the canopy, glimmering like a bright spirit who understands – one of the happy few.

And there were oceans.

It’s evening in the morning when he finds his dirty little shrine. She is surrounded by torches that coax the truth like he coaxes the sound that her tongue cannot make. He says they are hidden, but she says they are gone. So they sit on a bed of pine needles, and he tells her their story. Her mouth glows with the light of her mind, and his words unlock a vertigo that makes her want to jump. He sees movement in her eyes, but she doesn’t run. “The face wants what the face wants,” she tells him, as she raises her soft cloak. He watches as a slow French word slips off her tongue, and bends.

And all the moments were God.

“I bleed,” he tells her. “Bleed with me then,” she says. And so they bleed together. He draws a pastèque bath in a large wooden tub, and they sit nestled in bunches of melon, crushed under the weight of want. They smile together as the juice runs down their elbows. “This shrine is not going to get any cleaner,” he warns her, knowing the pastèque will eat itself.

And the drum was full of life.

She sees the hunger in his face, but not in his heart, because like the sound on her tongue, it has been hidden. “If my heart was pulled out of my chest and put, beating, in front of you, would you know what it wants?” he asks. Look how easily he betrays his heart for her, ripping it out of his chest like an Aztec god. She just nods as they sit in their dinner bath, and play like warriors, and he sees how her fire begins in her mouth. Like a dragon.

And there was feeling back in his chest.

He crosses lines like he crosses seas, and together they build their new conviction. They tape off the boundaries of their church, and he reminds her that she is the shrine. “Yes, I am ours,” she tells him, and they blend their flavors until they both suffer, because he can’t wish it otherwise. “But only a little,” he tells her, as his pulse quickens.

And there was breathing.

The forest is dark and damp, and she feels the soft, loamy earth underneath her. The night brings them fear, and awakening, and a language that has no home. He gives her paper thin kisses and whispers those other things – but not all out loud, and even some of them not at all, but they are still there. The sound of her rhythm, and the tang of his anguish sit on the edge of on their lips, and they bleed together, kidnapped for the ages.

Because she was the trigger, the bullet and the gun.

 

She Lives in Blue

She lives in blue,

between the cold

and the pure.

Where paths dwindle

and sprouting seeds

wind around roots

withered.

 

She lives where trees

wander at dusk,

following her close

like clouded breath –

and where timid water

trickles over soft

tendrils of thick

green moss.

 

Plans for Liberation

 

All my plans for liberation are

believable, until I inform my mother.

“Italy? What will you do when your period

comes? You’ll be on the first flight home.”

This is true, I know, so I say nothing.

 

What my family refers to as my Anne Frank Days

still hang between us like half-washed laundry –

the drops of soapy water battering the parquet floor.

A clothesline full of sorrow, dark circles

and hollow cheekbones.

 

I just wanted to ride a vintage blue bicycle

down a dirt road lined with arching trees,

while wearing a beret. Or maybe that is France?

Yes! I could escape to Provence, live among

the rows of lavender, and be willing to try new foods.

That would show her.

 

Why You Will Stay

Because the roosters will crow when the air is still cool enough to taste, and the sweat on your brow hasn’t yet been born. At daybreak, you will hear the soft, singing voices of the neighbor women firing up their comals, and soon you will begin to glow in the bright morning light – feeling raw and exposed, like a caterpillar taken too early from its cocoon.

Because your mind will daydream about fresh, handmade tortillas as your ears tune into the parade of sounds passing through your open window: quick footsteps on the sidewalk, children in pinafores calling out to each other over the muffled hum of motor traffic, and countless church bells clanging in the distance.

Because as you walk to the market, you’ll reach out and let your hand run along the smooth stucco exteriors, painted a vibrant, sunflower yellow, or the faded crimson of the evening sky. As you stroll, you will pass wrought iron balconies that frame intricately carved wooden doors, stained the color of black tea, and weathered from generations of burnt sun. The sight of these grand portals will make you melancholy for your Zapatista lover who cried, “Tierra y Libertad” from these very rooftops.

Because soon, you will eat greedily of mangos, using only your teeth; juice dripping down your chin like a wild animal, supping. Like your paisanos, you will become expert at preparing the sweet, red flesh of prickly pears – your fingers deftly evading the wicked hair-like spines of the nopal. And in the evening, the cool night air will be infused with the smoke of baking brick, and you will sip café-con-leche while eating sweet, sticky pastries whose names you can never remember.

Because the dry brown hills surround you, cloistering you from what lies beyond their boundary, and those things you left behind, and when the rainy season finally blows in, these sierras will slowly sprout neighborhoods of soft green cactus. The dust-covered roads will be washed clean in a Sunday afternoon flash flood, catching you in the torrential downpour; baptizing you in the churning street water, while refuse swirls around your ankles.

Because the hills will encircle you, fool you, tell you there is no way through, no way back. They will hold you captive.

 

Sea Glass

I saw you shading your eyes,

squinting through a pale blue

shard of glass, body swaying in

the slow drag of current.

 

Later, as the evening settled

over African violets, you sat in

shadow. And like the sea glass,

I knew you were somewhere else.

 

 

Why You Should Live Here

Because you can get a 15 peso haircut from an island barber whose name roughly translates from Mayan to Spanish to English as Mr. Honeybone Metal, and you can learn simple Mayan phrases from Mr. Honeybone Metal such as ‘bashkawalli” which means “what are you saying?” or “makachik pek” which means “shut up, dog,” all while you gaze at pin-ups on the wall of half-naked, dark-haired beauties. Because when black ants invade your room, they will politely limit their marching to a singular path along the horizontal wall tiles, and will only occasionally make a detour to assault your box of Kellogg’s Corn Pops which was ridiculously expensive, yet you bought anyways because it reminded you of home, and your previously sugar-coated life.

Because, if you have a tooth ache, you can buy potent pain medicine at the local farmacia without a prescription, and because when the laundry service gets too expensive at 10 pesos a visit, you can use the stone wash basin provided by your landlord (who also happens to be a practicing witch) and hang your clothes to dry on the rooftop like the local girls do. Keep in mind however, when first learning to wash by hand, it is difficult to know if all the detergent has been rinsed out of your clothes, and the soap residue will make your panties feel like parchment paper, as you slide them over your tan thighs. The house maids will laugh when they see your crisp clothing hanging on the line, but you won’t care because all you want in the whole wide world is to change out of your wet swimsuit, take a cool shower, and put on your fresh, brittle underwear.

Because every day you can eat pineapple and hibiscus flavored shaved ice when you wander through town, and if you’re American, you can walk into the air-conditioned duty-free shops just to cool down for a minute and enjoy your cold treat without anyone stopping you, before you head back out into the unforgiving sun. Because you can eat dinner at the corner taco stand at midnight, when it has finally cooled down enough to find your appetite, and in the morning you can walk to the house of an old woman with silver plaited hair and visit her in the soot-blackened kitchen while she makes handmade corn tortillas on a steel plate over an open flame. You can buy a half dozen of these delights to eat for breakfast, along with the deep green avocados growing out back in the courtyard.

Because at night, while the rafters will leak large drops of water and various insects onto your face, these bugs are mostly harmless, and although you might feel scared when a large winged beetle lands on your cheek, this is a culture that has an effective way to cure shock: First, you re-scare the frightened person by screaming and pouring a bucket of water on them. Then, when they are sufficiently doused, have them drink a shot of alcohol, wrap them in a thick wool blanket, and ease them into a chair outside in the hot sun until they start to sweat. This should all take place at noon, and to successfully perform this cure, you must repeatedly shout out the person’s name and yell “Don’t go!” three times.

Because of this, I think you should live here.

 

Odysseus, Untied

Summoned by my call, he

draws me from my verdant

well. From the deep water,

I slowly rise, swaying, smashing

against the current – snaring

myself in his unrelenting grip.

With his arms tight around my

waist, he pulls me until my spine

crushes against timbered walls.

 

With the weight of his words –

now wrathful, breathless –

and a fiery flick of his tongue,

I buckle; I shatter into a thousand

drops of silver.

 

From the Beehive

I am from the beehive,

from the call of swamp frogs

on damp August nights.

I am from my grandmother’s

hand mirror, and her

soft Russian accent

(Thick and sweet –

like love.)

I’m from piroshky

and pelmini dumplings.

I am from women,

and other living things.

 

I’m from a long gravel road,

a fence lined pasture,

and fresh cut wood

whose fiery sparks burn holes

in the hearth rug.

I am from the climbing vines

of sugar snap peas,

from patches of wild strawberries

and broken terra cotta.

I’m from the blackest watermelon seed,

and from bales of the greenest alfalfa.

 

I’m from rock salt and the labyrinth,

the dark woods just beyond our boundary.

I’m from “Never depend on a man.”

and “Build a brick wall.”

I’m from brooding night skies,

and wide open windows.

I’m from the rifle buried

beneath my winter clothes.

I’m from panic and haste.

I am from the hornet’s nest.

_____________________________

(Format riffed from George Ella Lyon)

 

 

Ebb and Flow

When will I see you?

When your eyes mirror the sky.

And until then?

Darkness. With a hint of blue.

Where does the dark take you?

It takes me everywhere and nowhere.

And the space in between?

It’s our dirty little shrine.

And what do you call me?

You are the pungi.

 

So, what will you do now?

I’ll wait on a wonder.

Where will you look?

Out the train window.

Not at the bluebird?

I’m afraid I will stare.

And Medusa?

I’ll close my eyes as she prances by.

Are you scared?

Yes, I hold such things sacred.

 

Jesus Flies

Quick, before you go
tell me

what kind of car would Jesus
drive if he lived

today? Would it be a powder
blue Volvo, or something

shiny, and black? I hope he drives
a vintage two-seater,

something he could flaunt and enjoy
in middle age;

a gift to himself and the girl
of his dreams.

 

Up and over hills
he would fly

past you and I
satisfyingly

“I would totally marry him,”
say the single

thirty-somethings as they watch
him go by,

checking their makeup in

the rear view mirror.

 

Interview with a Five Year Old

Are you here because you’re angry?

No.

Because you’re sad?

No.

Why are you here?

Because my mom made the appointment for me and said I had to go.

Why do you think she did that?

Because she is concerned about me.

Why do you think she is concerned about you?

Because she loves me.

How do you know she loves you?

Because she makes me breakfast every morning.

What does she make you for breakfast?

Whole wheat toast with extra butter – the crusts cut off.

This is how you like your toast?

Yes.

And you think this is her way of showing you love.

Yes.

How else does she show you love?

By straining my orange juice so there is no pulp.

What is wrong with pulp?

I find it to be a hardship.

I see.  What else do you find to be a hardship?

Bedtime.

Why do you find bedtime to be a hardship?

Because my thoughts become noisy.

What types of things do you think about?

Things that make me anxious.

What makes you most anxious?

The thought of my throat closing up.

Why would your throat ever close up?

Because there was this kid in my class who had to go to the hospital because he has tonsillitis and his throat started to close up.

Have you ever had tonsillitis?

Yes.

Did your throat close up?

No.  But I did throw up a lot of blood after my tonsillectomy.

But the thought of throwing up lots of blood doesn’t make you anxious?

No.

Why not?

Because it already happened and I lived.

 

A Thousand Years of Peat

Sea shores, stones, selkies,

tell me of the time we met;

under the restless Inverness sky,

veiled was I, remember?

Locks of hair around my face,

Xanax in my pocketbook,

you in all your glory lay at my feet;

zealous, and constant.

 

The Weight of Illusion

In the end there was the sound of crushed gravel, the burden of perception, and labored footsteps up the walk. Behind the rose colored door the children sat with their distractions, and a heavy, three day old cake sat with its candles tilted like trees lashed in a storm – white tipped, and forgotten.

 

And there were bowed heads

And there were dark eyes

 

And in the end there was guilt and shame and broken ventricles hovering in the Sunday air, darting, swooping, touching down on orange counter tops, growing heavier, and then rolling over the edge where the children tried to catch it, open palmed, and expectant.

 

And then footsteps up the stairs

And the cake in the garbage

 

 

The Girl Who Ran From Art

At dusk, we set off for a stroll, leaving behind photographs, faded and frayed, piled into stacks and nearly reaching the chipped grooves of the wainscoting. We cut through the brush and meander down dirt trails, longing for a shiny red wagon, and wishing our person had come along.

Wagon-less, we reach one of the better houses, whose walls are full of people who say they cook for fun. I watch the whip of a woman’s knife as she chops tomatoes that shine wet like rubies on a wooden butcher’s block, slashed with patterns of past ambitions. Standing across from her, a man bows his head and peels away the delicate pearl layers of an onion, until the tears crystalize on his soft, brown cheeks.

Can you lend me a colander? I ask the woman with the rubies, mid-stride. Her knife grows into a machete, and she looks up, her hands still doing the work of her eyes. I am built like a willow tree, she says, and you are built like an appliance. Yes, strong and enduring, I say to the woman with words that cut with a dull edge.

With her blade still in hand, she points to the sieve, covered in white enamel and hanging expectantly from a wrought iron clavicle. With the cool metal in my hands, I retreat through the dark wooded kitchen, carefully stepping over newly planted saplings. As she calls out her farewell, I hear joy in her voice as she reminds me how often appliances break down. I am borrowing you, I whisper to the colander and it whispers back. Keep me forever it says in a voice that sounds like it desperately wants to be more useful than a large bowl with holes.

We set off down the path, quickly putting distance between us and the willows. With each step, I pack down the forgiving ground, as dark as the earth it’s from. Clumps of spongy loam fly up and meet my bare skin – the pungent, damp soil suits me.

At the fork, twigs crack beneath my feet, uttering promises of a hundred missed dinners, and this is my first wrong turn. At the threshold of change, we go left instead of right. East instead of West. And I curse the faces in the dirt for not warning us of what is to come.

Rested wickedness lurks behind each perfectly trimmed hedge, but we don’t see it until we’ve come face to face. We freeze as their smooth velvet pelts and their sorrowful dark eyes lull us into complacency, while their powerful tails swing wildly, trying to wash us out to sea. I fix my gaze on the largest male, and I remind him of the stone and the thatch and the wide open rafters, while showing him the zipper down my back.

Too many traumas for one day, I say out loud as I remind you to call the therapist. Yes, we will call, you tell me, being careful not to mention the impending collapse. It will be fine.

But it wasn’t fine. Back out on the main road, the others are waiting for us. Their taunts and accusations follow quickly on our heels, some so wild, they race ahead, creating a pathway of troubled art. The corridor is slick. The walls are coated in wet paint, laced with charcoal shavings, and chalky pastels that stick to my fingers as I reach out to balance myself. It’s the only way to protect ourselves, they tell us.

I plug my ears and run ahead. I reach the house, and stumble into the image sat in our knife-less kitchen. Whole again, I grab the death flag and throw it out the open window, sure that I can deter them. But the art still finds me. It always does.

 

 

 

First: The Spirit

 

Shoulders, thighs, clever tongue, I can’t stop watching as

Water pours over the terrible choice for the well behaved.

He lives in his head and I covet the muscle stretched porcelain,

As my fingertips circle organic sounds that will not be forgotten.

 

With holy water issues, I bake on my knees and his brokenness heals me.

Little hollows beckon where boundaries push and he crushes against

Dizzy polka dots – where light threatens his dark. Do you want to, Lass?

I don’t fight the love you demanding top half, and the last oh is a zero –

Anyone can lift you up, he says, but I’ll make yours, mine.

 

From soft pink mirrors and backwards glances, octaves drop.

Can you hear me? I am full of cake, and he is full of me.

With his eager mouth, he moves me between two frequencies.

Where to first? So close now he aches with shivering choice,

But we can’t find the words, so we live in speechless antici…

pation.

 

 

 

The Labyrinth

The outer passage is alive. I pass wooden tables stacked high with blushing yellow, swollen green, wrinkled brown, sharp pods, leaves, powders, petals, shavings and things. Row after row of patrons, jammed together, elbow to elbow, facing large sweating glass jars of liquid, racks of leather, and strings of metal cages filled with parrots, doves, painted buntings, cockatiels, cardinals, parakeets, and pigeons. The second layer: a faint smell of raw meat, roasting seeds, men wielding immaculate machetes, and dead bees stuck to broken panes of honeycomb. A line of plastic cups filled with stagnant warm juice, stained white shirts, brass doorknobs, spools of thread, and ragged old women, creased and decreased. I follow deeper, into the gooey center; into the heart. At the core: a metallic tang of blood, and large slabs of flesh dangle from ceiling hooks, so pungent in the narrow passageway. I look down, averting the gaze of dead pigs that hang by their feet. I stand rooted in my spot. I listen only to the soft soles of my shoes as they stick and unstick to the dried blood on the cement floor. The flies are everywhere. Refrigeration is overrated. A man cuts into a chicken. He hacks off the head, the legs, cracking open the breast with his knife. The crumpled skin is yellow – why is it so yellow? Woozy, wobbly, I breathe in the carnage. And I can taste it; metallic and wet. Nausea hits the back of my throat. A lump of bitter begins to form. I tug on my shirt. I need more space; I want out of the labyrinth. I turn and run back through the aisles of filth, past the tables of transistor radios, cheap wrist watches, the machete men, down the steps, and away from the death. I lean against a telephone pole. I am desperate for clean air, but only exhaust fumes trickle down into my lungs as I count the passing cars.

 

© Elle Wonders 2014–2016

 

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