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SloughIt starts with a metronomicdrip-splat, each drop a bastinadoblow on the feet of sleep.Floundering from our half-cold bed, I navigate the roomlike a blind albatross until the bitchof a stubbed toe stops me.Something gurgles,deep in the house. Rust runnelsdown walls we painted ivory.I find the sink choking,the refrigerator dead, puddlesrising, like stigmata, on the lino.The kettle boils itself.It's been three weeks since you leftthis house. I thought by nowit would have stopped grieving...
Better To Be HorsesShe pretends to be horses. Not one,but a herd hurtling breakneckpast homes where other children sleep. Better to be horsesthan flattened under sheets,to run until her body breaks:Mustang, Arabian, Pinto, her tailspluming as she streamsthrough the dark. Hooves flashingon pavement, their thunderproof against silhouette and silence,she strains to be free of earthuntil she comes to the edgeof the world and the horses, panting,drop their headsto catch their breathbefore the long walk home..
The SuitorDon Emilio calls on us each week. My sisterswatch him like hungry cats: Juanita,so thin she pokes holes in the sheets,sour-lipped Pilar, and poor Ineswith her crooked back. But it is to mehis black eyes most often wander.Mama serves him coffee,and tightly rolled flautas. Our guest picksat the food, boasts of his villain Guanajuato; immaculate hands dipand hover like jewelled birds.I have begun to suspectthat Don Emilio is not looking for a wife..
HomesickDo not let them see you blink,Mother said, so I am careful to turnaway when my eyes dry out. My gripon the brush is clumsy. Colours speckand dazzle, slop like foam on rocks;the teacher dabs their brilliancefrom my flaking arms. Children whisperbehind starfish hands; they go to playin the bright, hot yard but I stay in,as Mother told me. Below the windowtheres a tank of golden fish that circle,circle, following their own reflections.I dip my fingers in to scoop one up,watch it flip and shine, cool in my palm,and press my face deep into the water.Membranes slide across my thirsty eyes.I breathe, and breathe, and breathe..
Field Notes. I: Insecta I snap: a sling-shot of sinew, tendons whipped to joints that buckle in lines as cleanly creased as an origami crane. Poised on a tripod of paper tips, I anticipate the wind but there is only steel shearing bone and then it all unfolds with a scritch-scratch and tickle of segmented limbs sprouting, barbed as berry-canes. II: Hymenoptera My skin once fed on your skin; sipped at honeyed pores with a thousand tiny, hollow tongues III: Apocrita and those words you said, the ones that closed like fists to cinch me mute but for this thin-bodied whine: please don't ever speak them again. IV: Formicidae They're predicting swarms this summer: better batten down the hatches, plu