the day we turned red
I’m no stranger to broken glass, and you aren’t either. Us feral beasts know how to tiptoe and keep quiet; when to starve panic. So the day you picked me up in that bright red car and told me to peel off the snake skin I just imagined the day I’d be picking through glass to find you eviscerated because:
we’re no strangers to scalpels.
So you picked me up in your bright red car. Your Wife called and you put Her on speaker; I laughed like a harmonica; you said shut the fuck up because She didn’t know I was in your hand, but I kept laughing; we popped painkillers that tasted like California poppies and ate the cold sea and resurfaced
with foam forming parentheses around our lips.
I used to wake up with ghosts and bruises; you used to sleep bleeding; now we’re free of adam and eve; free of the rotten fruit and it’s gnawing sour. There’s nothing to build; nothing to wait for.
excerpt of essay
You turn off the light. You’re seventeen. You’re about to have sex with a woman you just met, somewhere deep in Queens. It’s raining and the city smells like scorched sugar; the woman’s eyes are turquoise and she has a bruise on her chin and she tries to open her front door with four different keys until someone with a greasy beard lets you in. His pupils are planets. The room is covered with half-naked corpses with sloppy grins drying on their cheeks. The woman takes you to her room and tells you about the love of her life, Anna. They were together for five years. Anna was perfect. Anna died two weeks ago. Heroin. You reach out to touch the woman with the turquoise eyes but she swats your hand away and tells you to take off your clothes. “Don’t look at me,” she says, and you say “okay.” You step over corpses and let yourself out at dawn and drink black coffee on the subway. You burn yourself. You try to call the woman a few weeks later. She dies. You stop sleeping.
I’m still in bed when I hear you scream; the bullets in your voice tell me you just found your nightmare, dead.
The sky is clogged and the sun is yolky, casting red shadows on your hands while we drive to the vet; California burns. There’s ash in my mouth.
I wish you didn’t have to know that cremating a 4 lb chihuahua costs $47.00. I hand over my grey credit card to the manicured receptionist with the manicured smile; she asks whether you want a private cremation for $195.00 instead (they’ll ship you the ashes for free), but you’re weeping too hard to answer.
I ask: “where will you put the group ashes?” and the receptionist says, “I have no idea,” and you say, “it doesn’t matter.”
Your dog is wrapped in her favorite blanket—the one with the garish, green, yellow, orange, pink hearts. I hate that fucking blanket because it’s so cheerful; now I’m staring at it hoping for a breath or a kick.
You hand your dog to the vet and collapse in the ashy parking lot. Your eyes are raw and red; you beg me to turn back time. I try to figure out how. You tell me it’s your fault.
You should have kept the dogs inside. You should have realized that she was going to get her head stuck in that black plastic water pipe when you saw her playing with it; you went to the grocery store instead.
I Google “where do dog ashes go?” because I want to tell you that she is going to turn into a tree or a tulip, but Google says that ashes are bad for living things.
So I don’t say anything.
The yolky sun sets.