I call it, "How I Got my Spots."
In this freckleless nation, my students ask why I have spots. Why. What a half-loaded gun of a word. I tell them my birth mother was a cheetah. They do not believe me and they do. It is a lie and it is not.
There is a song in my blood, a sonata in three movements, the cheetah woman put it there. The first movement begins with the particular onliest sound of her keys on their rings, the way the sound could make me snap to, and the sweetfear sourlove taste of the sound. In this movement I surrender one third of all future kisses and a handful of teeth. Ocean sound and the hotel room that night three sequential strangers came and left and could not epoxy me whole. The smell of sewer steam and the silence before a clap of thunder. In this movement I cannot love the mirror because it is broken, too.
In the second we hear her lacing her shoes, hear them so hard we see them, still pristine white after all those years of running away. In this movement I bury a flock of childhood memories in the soil behind our house, they will never sprout and I will not remember why not, I put them there and turn lose forever, kick dust over them as I turn my back. She turns her back and there it is again like it never stopped, the staccato crunch of driveway gravel, even the rocks sound angry. They will call at you caw at you claw at you tell you they know why you did it, they saw it, how you held on to a corpse for two thirsty years, they mock you for holding so long, they mock you for letting go, dare you to run for the cold comfort of the bathroom floor.
You won't realize the third movement has started at first. It opens with the echo of no more words, the wish to deserve the word home, the feeling of death tucked behind your left ear. Then a dream of flying, then rubber bullets, applause that does not catch on, the last glass he drank from before he left, sound of rain, unlocking, floorboards creaking, look, the cockroach is getting away before you can kill it. The tinkling of icicles, a spider's footsteps, an ecstatic eulogy, and behind it all, still, the echoing silence, overripe fruit hitting tiles. And the grand finale, the most dulcet of terrors, the sound of a cheetah hungering home.
|Mom and Dad|