I am in
when the wind hits
exactly east, and
the light in the trees is
familiar, a kaleidoscope
of glass, only,
no influence of internal substances
making me spin, spin
pulled deeper, into
the leaves, the earth, the
snow that is to come.
Soil brushes against
the inside of my finger
like sweet mush.
The patted down surface
of broken life re-emerges
from itself in a circle.
A tiny green speck bursts through
the placenta of blackness
and opens its two tiny digits
to the far-off sky
with very little chance
and reaches all the more
for the air and the light.
It isn’t true that mice prefer cheese. They would rather eat crunchy peanut butter or Purina brand dog food. I should never have told Don.
I work at Exxon. My grandfather has stock in Exxon. That’s why we buy our gas here. I’m on bathroom duty. December 14th, 2:04 p.m. My initials: JM.
My hands sweat as I poke the trap with the toe of my sneaker. The tail jiggles.
Toilet paper gets expensive, Don tells me. We can’t afford to keep donating it to the mice. His lips are stained blue from free raspberry Slurpees. He has zits on zits.
In gym class we had a visiting Tai Chi teacher. He tells us we should stand like sponges, hollow and absorbing. Absorbing what, I want to ask. We are straight lines from mouth to anus. I try not to laugh. He says this after Ellen farts. A long drawn-out fart. The kind that smells.
I think I should stand like that now. Deep breath, sunken chest.
I bend and pull the lever back, the body jerking. Its whiskers are as thin as a spider web.
There is peanut butter smeared on its small paws.
I touch it with one finger -- still warm. I wonder how long does it take to get cold?
I wipe my hands on my jeans and pinch the tail between my thumb and forefinger. I dangle it over the toilet bowl, close to the water.
The neck is squished flat -- a joint with no bone. I feel a beat and a breath and the mouse blinks so fast I think I must have dreamed it.
I drop it into the water.
I am a sponge.
A whisker twitches.
The toilet handle is slippery like Don’s lips must be.
One angry, muggy day I punched a hole in the wall. I blamed the fly that decided my kitchen was an acceptable alternative to the unbearable out-of-doors. He lived simply enough and didn’t mind sharing with me. Soon he was usurping my dinners, getting big and fat on prime rib. That night, though, he went too far when he devoured half of my chocolate cake. Despite his newly acquired girth, he was a quick fly, darting around the kitchen, landing only to gleefully watch inertia overtake me as I spun in concentric circles. Bulbs splintered and screamed, caffeinated mugs hovered and jetted, papers folded themselves into airplanes to escape.
Still the fly lived.
I stared at the hole and wondered if I might lure him in there and plaster it shut. Murderous thoughts took hostage of my patience. He smartly disappeared as I settled in to watch the news. But as Letterman wound up for his opening, the fly was back, buzzing around the TV. Louder and louder, faster and faster he buzzed. I knew what the cake thief wanted and I wasn’t giving in again. Finally he landed and crept across the guests’ faces, sucking the sallow pixels until I could take no more. I flipped to Leno. My fly settled in on the armchair beside me.
Space Monkey with Boo
Because they are kids and because that’s what kids do, play Space Monkey with kids like Boo, who use words such as whatever and meh in the company of grownups, things are bound to happen.
Tom James would be the first to admit this, if he was still breathing. He would probably also tell you he enjoyed the high especially when Boo did it to him because she was the most caring. She held his neck the longest. Never with an obvious belt or ordinary rope. Always with hands.
In the hours leading up to this event, Michael Roy challenged Tom James to a winner-takes-all of Rock Paper Scissors to see which of them Boo would choke first. Both were wanting. Roy lived with his mother in an apartment above a convenience store. James lived with his dad in a house built with construction scraps. Both were 13.
When Boo first arrived at school prior to this happening, the other schoolgirls took notice as well. Soon they knotted their shirts in front like Boo, their bellybuttons exposed, their breasts appropriately accentuated. In time these schoolgirls are walking the halls as if adolescence is one glamorous runway.
Before that, when Boo moved into the neighborhood, the local girls noticed. Soon they were wearing makeup the way Boo wore hers. Eyeliner, thick. Eye shadow, dark. Lipstick, MTV glossy. In time they are pouting and preening as if sex is just what you do after Hide and Seek and Kick the Can are no longer interesting.
In the weeks leading up to her arrival, Tabitha "Boo" Harris spends her days in a gated Westchester County community suggestively called Cloud 9. Afternoons while her parents work in Manhattan at important jobs with titles like CFO and SLA she undresses at her bedroom window. Instead of completing her honors homework, she poses for the neighbor. When done, she looks through college catalogs her parents have left out for her on the kitchen table. They are splayed like a deck of cards. Next to them is this note:
What you witnessed last night was not what it seems. I meant no harm to your father. Although it may have appeared I was trying to hurt him, in fact I was not. I love your father with all my heart. I'm sure you understand.