Each one is a mantis. Slight as a stiff line of rain, somber like a monk that’s not trying to take your money.
I watch them from the window, how they cross the street with bowed heads, reverent or ashamed even when it’s pouring or when gusts twirl trash around their ankles like starved rats.
I gnaw on the sock-dry end of a vendor pretzel I bought a week ago and just now found in my handbag. The things you find in a purse can tell so many stories, though stories may or may not be true.
The strawberry-blonde is my favorite, though I don’t know why. Her breast plate gleams like whole milk. It looks like a pair of wings welded together, made of bone and regret.
When she buzzes in, I race down the stairs. Press my ear against the therapist’s door. All I ever hear is (…)
My mother was a faulty tonic, was a fog horn blaring, was a ceiling fan always shredding the rusty air in our trailer. In the food store with her once, she said about a woman with another cart, “Look at that fat pig. For fuck’s shame.”
I spit pretzel slivers into the toilet, saliva and spurs clinging to the curved walls of the bowl. When I pull myself up using the toilet rim, I avoid the mirror because I know she’ll be there, with me hooked backward in the grocery cart.
I go to sleep on a mattress that’s as soft as bread just out of the oven. I take breaths so deep that my nostrils separate the yeast odors from the slick butter scent that’s bound to come. It’s a bit like being at the door of Heaven, wondering if you’ll get in and who gets to decide.