I caught you with God again, and the lilies I bought you wilted at the dawning, breaking. Noon, I think, with fresh-cut basil in the sink. Green food, green house, green bruises, green napkins — his obsession with green smarts me, mama, don’t you know? I don’t like catching you and him like that. That kiss was hurtful to watch, violent teeth against plump lips, taking again. I went to the pond to forget, but it’s not easy.
If he weren’t so mean he’d be handsome, but your God’s true breed shows every day, mad and savage as Achilles. We’re reading The Iliad in English class, mama, you should read it too. So many nights he rages against you, his Hector, his Patroclus, a throw and a crumple against the bedroom wall. I hear and say nothing. Never trust a man mistrusted by animals, you once said, you said so, mama, and I still believe that even when you don’t. We’re animals, too.
God always says bad poetry to mask his control. Today, you put the red pagoda plant you got at the farmers’ market in the kitchen window, and God said, No more succulents on the windowsill, sweetheart. Flutter your lashes at winter & me instead, ‘cuz solace is in the genteel curves of your ears & I love it when you listen. I know you didn’t know what he meant, but you did as he said, let God tug on your earlobes. The wince, mama, I saw it. I took the red pagoda and hid it under my bed. Green and burnt red, like your heart since your God came. Too much water and it dies. He knows your true heart is prettier than him. He knows I’m prettier than you, and he has the bite marks on his hands and arms to prove it.
Your God tried, mama, but I’m not you, and that saved me. The horror afterward, green and burnt red. Someday, mama, someday.
God don’t go by the pond, so that’s my place to be now. To be, you used to know what that was like, didn’t you, mama? Cattails and sunlight cut by the oak tree, green and gold smeared by spring. Cicadas and the croaks of grumpy frogs. I read and draw and avoid and hum. But at school the boys sneer because they smell your God’s failed attempt. The girls with half-lidded eyes offer me a smoke, and I take one to spite you all. Your God doesn’t like that kind of impurity. Well, bully him. Bully him, mama, please. But you won’t. I beg and you still won’t. So I will.
I know in The Odyssey — we’re reading that next, mama — Odysseus plugs his ears so he don’t hear the sirens singing as his ship sails by. Your God isn’t that smart, and I can’t sing, but there’s the pond. Deep enough to lick my waist, so deep enough, mama.
He forgets the bite marks real quick. Cut-off shorts showing moonshine thighs does wonders, mama, that I know you know, I got them from you. I hold the red pagoda behind my back. Heavy, cool ceramic, and wet soil. I hum, and he mistakes the smile in my eyes for something else.
Stupid, your God. So stupid, his saunter into the water, his leech-eating grin. He’s right in front of me, reaching for my arms. So stupid.
The sound of his skull breaking is liberty. Again, again, until blood slicks hair and skin. Water splashes, dark earth flies, sticks to my lashes. It’s easy to hold him down when he’s barely conscious. I’m helping God trade one darkness for another. I don’t need to hum anymore. I smell dislodged mud and copper. The cicadas never stop singing.
He stops moving. Cracked ceramic digs into my skin. No more green now, mama, only red and red, Mama, forever.