You come home to an apartment where the walls bleed silence and pain
is the scratching of a dying rat, grown fat on insulation candy. You
blame it on restlessness, this itch in your belly, hunger coupled
with longing, a combed midnight desire to exist only in the dark,
where no one can see you, but everyone can feel you. You close your
eyes for a dream, and anger drives a thumb into your mouth, feels
for a loose canine, pushes, pulls. You kick a hole in the wall. Once,
twice. You push the couch over a couple feet so no one will see. White
plaster impacted on the toe of your graying sneaker becomes a wishful
memory of snow.
You sit on the couch, push your wrists into your eyes and release
a few dry sobs. Do you feel better? No. You remember a fotonovela
your father read to you once, a woman crying into her wrists. "Her
husband is dead," he told you, scarred yellow hands feathering over
the pages. You fit the dead Spanish words onto your tongue. "Mi
esposo es muerto." Funny how you can trace all of your problems
back to your parents. You can't blame yourself for anything. Kick
holes in the walls and cover them up. Harbor a flickering passion,
but swallow it whole before anyone sees.
You shot a rabbit once and cried, but your father smuggled away your
tears, praised you, said you were such a good shot, you got that rabbit
right in the brain so it didn't feel any pain at all, just hopped
to rabbit heaven. The buck of its body, twitch of a foot, that was
a leap into your bullet's path. Your aim wasn't that good; the rabbit
must have had a death wish. Its meat was tough and your papa said
it was because the rabbit was old.
The Rio Bravo tires of you and changes its flow and the memories collapse
into the present as a wave of wind crashes over the building. Your
face is at the window and an oleander bends in the blasting wind,
a man in a coat rides his rusty bike down the dark street. It's two
in the morning, a storm is breaking, the walls threaten to topple.
"Mi esposo es muerto."
You make a phone call and a friend comes over. You don't care if your
mother comes home and finds you sweat-stuck to this boy, with the
fat rain falling on the roof, the hot air washing steam ghosts through
the streets. You walk to the door, open it, let the wet hit you in
prickles and jets, thunder shudders up your arm through the doorknob,
lightning blinds and dies. Naked for the air and no one else. My
husband is dead, and you lick your forearm for the flavor of salty
semen and poison air and acid rain.