Calle de los Hijos

When I asked where the jarred monkey head came from, Dan said, ohhh, just from a magician friend of mine. There’s a nice garden out back, brass bed and a black cat, but there’s also a vulture claw, some petrified lizards, and a perfect alligator skull holding space between Heart of Darkness and Huck Finn. His memory’s terrible, so he reads books again and again, posts his scrawled reminders in every room: 1. cat food 2. left breast too small: re-draw 3. chiropractor noon on tues. Reminds me twice to mow, water the morning glories and the marijuana, calls from Portland to double-check. When I shuffle to the bathroom at night, I dodge a child-sized skeleton, iron mannequins, oil paintings of nude women, one of which is me, with silk and lace and cellophane-covered faces and gold-leaf haloes that glow in the dark, and I swear their shadows should amount to piles of clothes, but they don’t. Even in daylight, I tiptoe.

There once was a pocket and a love letter to an ugly boy found inside it. There was a basement and a coal stove with a belly full of fire and my mother with her eyes. Did I burn the letter or did she? I was becoming angles, breasts, belly, legs already, with nowhere to go but god. There were her hands and their ideas of what shape I should shrink to fit this room, its sagging ceiling, its berber carpet, its church-colored walls. There I am, cooperating and charring at the edges, no margins left for error. She says, not at this age, honey. Save the heart for something much smaller, something you can contain. I do not say, I already have.

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