At night for several hours I lay waiting. I count my sins in the dark, I did, I did, I didn’t, a beaded necklace, a chain, until I remember who I am. Mortified, mortal.
In the morning I wake in my mother’s house. In my mother’s house there are alligators and altars, garden statuary in a brief field of chickenshit. Three yard-art rings of plaster naked people strung with colored bulbs of light. Kiddie pool in the center, the rigid kind, grinning mermaids and octopi with inflamed feet. A fine murk, the surface, as bright as the night. Beneath the surface fallen things, falling apart things, so stuffed full and swollen with the generosity of their sacrifice that they burst. Each brittle bulb of light is dusted with the wing-bits of gnats, grey moths; their eyes, their slender legs, the segmented wayward curl of their abdomens cooked clean off. A dazzle, a pop, a sizzle of light.
I wake in my mother’s house. Her house has many doors, no exits. One must enter willingly. There’s always something worse outside, bears, wolves, spring. I came for the equinox; the time was right. I stood bare-chested in the kiddie pool, elated, drunk. You were there. Always there. Knowing as I did the spring-trap jaws of the gators outside. Remembering as I did the step-father who keeps the key.
I rise from the bed, stretch the sheets. Examine the parking lot: broken cars, an open dumpster, a cat. I water a plant with my night glass, walk to the bathroom to watch the mirror. I brush, swish something stinging and artificially mint, spit blood and foam.
Hung-jaw I examine slick incisors, blunt molars, the dark soft cavities slipped like black pearls in the crags. I soap and rinse my face, pat the skin dry with a slightly musky towel.
Carefully I reach throat-down to my heart. It tenses as I touch it; I would gag but there is much forearm in me. My jaws ache; my mouth stretched full of fist. I pull my heart out, blood on my chin, the mirror. It tastes like a cavity, a sore on my tongue. I study it for fresh scarring.
For this part I must always work quickly. I check the water: numbing cold. I rinse my heart, gently re-arrange arteries and chambers to ensure a thorough clean. Slowed by the chill, it gurgles blood into the bowl.
I plug the sink. My heart slips beneath the surface like a fish. Sockeye, all spawned and spent. I agitate the water to oxygenate.
Let the damn thing rest. Rest from the thing. I slide to the floor. I wonder if my child is awake. This morning I have bled more than usual. My mother walks into the bathroom.
When will it be spring again?, I ask her, blood down my chin. Bloody water overfills the sink. My heart is light enough to float; the muscles of its chambers murmur fitfully like a mammal in sleep. Ripple, gurgle; quickly I grab it, wring it furiously, embarrassed for her to see.
I made that heart, you know, she says.
You broke it too, I say, and shove it down my throat.
Tylenol will stop the bleeding, each pill a heavy brick. Her arms a tourniquet: what isn’t fed will simply fall off. She rocks me and sings. Teeth, tile, the chill of morning. I wake from a dream of my mother’s house.