Ritual No. 8

She cuts the edge of the lawn with the tiniest of scissors, each spear a strand of thread dripping of weld and woad. Between concrete and harvest she kneels towards ache and atrophy. She makes an art of the contrast that rests in that barrier. Float and crust and cool and keep. She weaves the words, “I am like you,” her voice the velvety slope. The sun at her sweaty neck burns its mark into her skin. Cut, cut, cut, and patch. Each gash and slit of yellow nubs releases abundant bitter milk. Warp and weft and dream and sleep. Bloated toads heave in the dirt, discarded buried beating hearts.

Ritual No. 24

Dogwood petals fill the gutters like a fluttering snowdrift. See the women scurry, living sacramentals, unlocked from each box. A rush of brooms and rakes sweep and scrape, purging all proof of the fleeting blooms. On low branches the skinks bask in the sun, speaking their own truth and untruth, flicking their blue tails as they turn away. Hoses uncoil to wash the gutters clean. Pinned to the sky, above the tree, a mass of bumblebees hovers and hums. Along the edge of the hill below there comes a quiet crash. Children crush plastic birds and doll hands to meet the flood of petals flowing towards the sewage drain. So soon the street is the clearest gray. Only a shadow of tree remains. Running up the hill the children pluck the skinks from the dry bark. Each box locks again. Curls glisten under glowing clouds. Thin blue worms twitch, pinched between tiny fingers and thumbs.

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.