First, the mind goes. It goes slowly.
So slow it is near imperceptible.
A subtle change in routine,
in speech patterns, in one’s bathing
schedule. Then the eyes change.
The gloss overtakes the eyes.
The gloss as if one has encountered
what they believe to be God. Then
acceptance. This is who we are now.
We pass it on. We wait. We quiet.
We remember quietly. The thud
of the body when it finally gives out
like the mind. How it falls quickly.
Suddenly. The body’s resurrection.
How it converses with the men
who’ve come to take it away. How
it sits up, pushes a cigarette between
its gums, blows smoke into its glossy
eyes. We question what the eyes know.
We question truth. We question the mind,
which goes first, we know. First,
the heart goes, too, sometimes. A missing
chromosome—deleted. Holes form. It leaks.
Makes a pool of the body. We become
many things. Many things at many times,
but always pools, always the glossy sheen
riding the water’s surface like skin.
We’ve become skin. It has become us
before we could become it. It has colored
the mind. First, there is color. Pink gums
mashing hog maws cooked in a slimy pot.
Pink gums mouthing words to an invisible
man. Pink, glossy words of prayer. We’ve
become prayer. A primitive language.
We speak and it is so.
knives brandished / police threats /
bail refund check / to buy back
forgiveness / glass shards picked
from knuckles / silence ensued /
little naps plucked from my face /
until it bled / didn’t eat / couldn’t sleep /
brother’s screams / body slammed
on the wall / of the pink bathroom /
back broken in half / by the towel rack /
body lifted / just so / by the neck /
as if to levitate / as if to make of him
a ghost/ primordial / ethereal / rat terrier
barking / at their ankles / heirloom
preserved / exposed / blood calling /
the house phone / ripped out the wall /
a chasm opened / the wrong shade
of white / to cover it.
The very look of it made me thirsty
We never learned to see the miraculous, only to wait for it.
We loved the waiting, made a festival of it, a weeks-long party
every equinox with woodwinds-only music and leavened bread
baked in ovens we built in the ground. Each night,
we’d get on our knees and pray for the healing
not to come so we could wait a little longer. Our prayers
were always answered. Always affirmative. There were always figs,
which grew like manna, though we knew it was just nature,
the way I knew it was just nature before I journeyed here,
when my grandma’s body shriveled like a plum left in the sun.
I watched my body shrivel up, too, hoping this would protect me.
No one believed me when I got here, thought I was always this frail,
this fractured. They fed me figs, welcomed me in,
though with a wary eye, which didn’t bother me. I was used to it.
I’ve always been a site of suspicion.