If Only

If only we could see and know and feel all the angst and fury going on inside all those little boxes. If only we could harness it.
Bring it out into the open. If only we would speak it. Voice it.
Scream it. If only we could take it apart, destroy it,

and drop it in tiny pieces in the public square
and proclaim our freedom from it forever.

Forever Sun Salon Self Portrait

Two women in one and neither one ever whole. Your husband is your child. I know this. I think of your two hearts, your one eyebrow, the miscarriage of your marriage. There is blood on your skirt. I walk the winding staircase to the tanning salon. You are there in your Mexican headdress, so elaborate. I see you, dancing your joy with your wooden leg. Your skin is bathed in brown like the color mine becomes when we massage it with wet coffee grounds. What a mess we make. Goats are chewing the receptionist’s hair. At her desk, I stop, but you turn the corner. I see you, drawn to Diego’s belly. You think home is in that place, that man. Get away from him. Come with me. We will run from his painted men. Their hands are too large and they are too pleased with themselves. Later I will be sunburned. It will be good then. You will bathe me with cool wet lavender and chamomile oils, almond oil. You will put honey and mashed bananas on my skin. The light on the water will reflect on the walls like sunlight through the clouds above the Sierra Madre. The long white bulbs become green through my lenses. I put myself into this oven and think of you, the way you baked after you were dead. They say your corpse rose suddenly, snapped, sat straight up from the heat of it. Your final self portrait, you haloed by a ring of flames. I see you, as they said, smiling in the center of a sunflower.

Salad in Suburbia

The pitted date unfolds like a broken cicada skin. Whirring and helpless memories of old houses stunt the burn of lemon juice finding the cracks in my skin; traveling through canals of age. I’ve been here for thirteen years. I’ll be here for thirteen more. Cilantro stems like spindly locust legs unfurl over parsley and pistachio; cling to smooth Pyrex. Food fills a space once lushly loved yet now untouched. In the bowl, it seems, the insects emerge winged and intoxicated; dripping lemon and sherry; glistening oil; sustaining pristine cithara string notes. Ache is all there can be no matter what the species. We sing these songs so long that we die and never notice.

Torchy Blane

Glenda Farrell as Torchy Blane in Fly Away Baby (1937)

“Every time you come in here you try to stop the machinery.”