By: Genevieve N. Williams
Unease bumps inside the body of a fly
that bumps against an unknown wall
in an unknown room. It’s Chinatown,
Chicago. I’ve locked myself in
the McDonald’s bathroom. A hand-dryer
hangs by two cords: home
and someplace else. A fight ends
as quickly as it began, and I open the door
to a calm that exists only after unspeakable things.
An artificial waterfall tilts to the left, and blue
nights rise from grease and gorgeous women.
I can’t say why, but I want to be the man
in the bottom of a dried-up well, who thinks
he can gain the answer to everything
if only the sun will burn perfect circles
onto his hands. Or maybe I just want
to lick the shadows from your walls,
your yellow-wallpapered walls,
your imaginary endings. Later,
I will throw them up into the toilet.
Who am I kidding? I will not take
on any more of your little deaths,
your half-cocked confessions. I will
not force the handgun from your hands
or lie by the couch to keep you
from ____________. An empty bottle
of McCormick’s sits in your freezer door,
and I have better things to do than imagine a you.
When I left, I realized you never knew me
from the projections of her. You never knew
that I never knew you, either – not really.
We were forever each other’s mothers –
or some bit of history that never existed. Who am I
to say you were wrong for calling me
a whore? I know an artist
who says words are meaningless,
that we assign them power when
they needn’t be anything but shapes on paper.
He’s a pseudo-intellectual hipster cop-out,
but that doesn’t matter. What matters is this:
A man stands on top of a rock, pregnant
with a lobster that is really his mother.
He rests his hand on his uterus,
closes his eyes to the wind.
I share a card table with a woman
whose ears are cow’s ears
and whose feet are pig’s feet.
We’re in the middle of a gravel road.
She smiles a knowing smile.
A foo dog charges through
my apartment door, morphs
into an aging monk, and slouches
against the kitchen counter.
He asks for a glass of water.
My father is there. In my waking
state, a black shadow swooshes
from the alcove of 20s Showgirl.
We have all seen it/him/her
and we’re not saying anything
to anybody else about it.
The rabbits are eating our peas.
Nothing will remain as it was before.
It’s possible to pass on traumas
to our children, DNA changed
forever by epigenetic expressions.
It’s also possible to pass on positive
shifts. I like to imagine myself
happy, though my parents
lived through unspeakable things.
I dream myself into wells of absurdity
and wallow in shallow waters.
A falcon tips into the gloved hand
of a little girl, and a fly dies
on my headboard. She has
the weightless body of a barn swallow.