You say, “There’s nothing wrong with a little touchy feely,” then touch me there. The Greyhound bus driver doesn’t notice. The orange-crushed sun outside doesn’t notice. The spastic horsefly batting my seat front doesn’t notice. So maybe I don’t either.
We pass adobe buildings with their sloped shoulders and persimmon skin. Inside the bus, the hot air is sharp, is a paper cut going down my throat, making sly, exact slices all the way toward my gut. At times like these, I count sheep, even in daylight, watching each one get butchered, limb by limb, organ by organ, clouds behind them filling with tomato soup color.
You say, “This could be one of the best days or your life, you never know,” and touch me there with your anteater face unmoving.
When we pass a homeless man pissing in an alley trashcan, you shield my face with your soft hand that is never soft. Into the window stinging my cheek, your lighter fluid breath leaks as you say, “Some people are animals.”
You take a swig from the crinkled brown bag that’s been leaning against your erection. It used to make you wince but now there’s just a burb of sulfurous smelling brown fog.
You say, “I bet you’ll like me more when you’re older,” and touch me there, deeper this time, like a posthole digger hitting rock.
Your car got impounded again. That vehicle had been our home these last many months. The only time you’ve ever stopped drinking is when you’re snoring. The only time your fingers stop roaming are when they’re holding glass. And you, in your own bizarre way, have already tried to teach me about forgiveness, but you’ve also forgotten how you told me I am a slow learner.
The sun nibbles my ear with its sharp teeth, or maybe that’s just you. Maybe the driver is watching this time, his eyes busy and all wrong. No matter, you touch me there again.
You say I look old for my age, that I look just like Mom only my smile has a tendency to hobble. “That’s more like Gran’s,” you say. “Her stroke, you know.”
You haven’t told me where we’re headed and I’m too afraid to ask and there are presently no sheep in the sky to distract me so I fold up more inches of my flesh and toss them out the window, watch them flutter away like butterflies made of dough.
The bus chugs up a steep hill, each revolution a sooty sigh of triumph. And then it’s down down down rollercoaster fast, so speedy we could be flying. You are thinking whatever it is you think, and me I’m thinking we could be anywhere right now, if I’m smart enough to make it happen with my thoughts–outside of time and space. Like you could be someone else’s father, tied to a stake and burning, while I could be someone else’s daughter watching sheep fly and live, none of us worthy of touching, none of us what we’re not.