in second person, or pretend you don’t exist. Climb inside a wicker box, glue the lid to your head, and don’t ever come out. Don’t tell them about the three knobs on the dresser across the room or the dried flowers and rat trap you slipped inside. Tell them something pretty: an Adirondack chair at the edge of the ocean, breeze blowing the towel tossed across its back. Don’t tell them about your bruised face, the gunshots behind your head to keep you in line. Don’t tell them about the lies chained to your lips.
Don’t worry about me, I’m in first person now, but I did disappear long ago, in childhood after I beat my brothers with sticks, threw rocks at cars, and cried to go home from church camp. I disappeared when church service began, my father standing in the choir (top row, center), after my mother slapped my face for singing different words to the hymns, after I counted the number of flies inside the church building. Don’t worry about me. I’m not a pretty story. I disappeared years ago, after I caught my brothers smoking in the woods. Don’t worry about me. Here’s my story: I failed to sit on men’s laps when my boss asked me to, I failed at smoking pot, failed at watching my mother die, failed at getting off caffeine, failed at raising a child. Don’t worry about me. I’m not here.
I drop dirt like a child blinded by broken bottles. The story is in the floorboards, or is dust, or is a flower above my window.
Chains of ash from the red hotel sink spread across my dream of a blast that was once the soft ground where I sat, and now I refuse to be quiet. Find me in the woods, tied to the cypress trees. Fourteen times the solstice opened my eyes, conjured me up like words dripping from a throat before I found a way to say things like, “No, get out of my life.”
My fingers are on the trigger of my past. My fingers are careful in the garden of sand. Our father who art in heaven? Give me a bouquet of dogs, give me a pack of storm-whipped sticks, give me a mandible, lips that fit on the curtain’s wistful breath, give me police reports, give me a bonfire, my first husband’s rifle. Give me my enemies.
I was never a feather, never a pretty story, and now my entire body has become bone. I simply wish to become a mummy filled with rocks, with straw, with bangles of cartilage and teeth. I wish to make my life a junkyard that holds my hungry, pointless sins.