--JUST LIKE A PAPERBACK NOVEL, THE KIND A DRUG STORE SELLS
…How was your weekend? My was quite fun.Also, I had three things appear in the print journal out of NYC, UCity Review.
Here they are:
The Strength of Water
Not rain, but a shower, hot water pelting my skin like agitated chicks pecking, pecking insistently and urgently, and for a moment, as I’ve trained myself to do, I picture myself bathed in white light, hold radiance among this halo of grace and safety, with the moist smell of baked bread and slathered butter, sounds of a choir singing about salvation, the swish of their robes like secret whispers of hope, and when in that moment I have given myself away to a world as light as angels themselves, a hammed rips my arms shoulders back, black pain indiscriminate, everywhere, then back to the real world and the middle school shower and Brian Bickman and boys cackling, some pointing, saying, “It looks like an earthquake,” about my back, my skin where the bruises sat like mildewed splotches, and I knew they knew but still I said, “I fell. My brother did it. I wrestled a bear in the woods.” I blathered on while involuntarily touching each tender spot, sparking a flame of pain, like a purple firework, and a memory came, the taste of bile and blood, and with that, quite miraculously, the taste of forgiveness in the form of water after the boys had gone, water when I tried to clean myself, water when I dunked under it and vowed to be new, to be strong and true, to give grace, pledging to be a man of peace one day.
I Can Be Your Sweat-Stained Shirts
I can be your witness,the frost on your windshield that you
like to scrape just to hear the sound.
I can be your black exhaust,
your sweat-stained shirts and
I can strip the sheetsand take your temperature,
ladle broth into your mouth
and look away when you swallow.
I have already heard your confession,that off-kilter yodel
tamped tight inside a pillow,
as frail as the blank batting of your eyes.
And, yes, of course,of course I could duct tape all your doors at the seams,
hoist black sails across your windows,
sit and listen as you recite all your reasons,
but there’s one thing I won’t do,
never in a million years,
let you leave me.
“You can’t be a girl,” I told my brother, “it’s not scary.”“You ever try walking in high heels?”
He had a point. Besides, it didn’t make sense to use our lawn job money to buy costumes. Halloween came once a year and we weren’t dumb or rich enough to be wasteful.
At the first houses I was embarrassed. My brother’s lipstick and mascara were perfectly applied, but too colorful. He’d made himself a macaw, a Madame.
I got used to it, even though Mrs. Fitzgerald slammed the door on us and Bobby Graham’s mom called my brother a hideous freak.
“You’re not getting as much candy as me,” I said.
And it was true.
But at home he got even. Still wearing a dress and nylons, he pinned my wrists to the ground and gave me Chinese torture until I cried. Years later it was he who cried as he told me his plans. I put my arms around him. I held him strong. “It doesn’t matter,” I said. “Then I’ll just love you like a sister.”