The Midwest throws neon-colored food at us. We have something microscopic in our throats. The trees procreate with pink, twirling helicopters that Carmen decides are magical.
We go to a festival about a truce, called Truce Fest. We are trucing about colors of skin. You find a pair of earrings. Everything is pink here. We dance with the pavement. The hippies dance with the wind.
We go to a bar after a fight. A vague pout. On you, a faint stew. Whiskeys. Dark corners. The coasters are from 1962. The tornadic weather has made us want to drink. Men sway like old trees at the end of the bar. I hope she doesn’t shoot me when I walk in the door, one says. The TV told me to bend over and kiss my ass goodbye, says another.
I am tired and I want to go back to the motel room. I want you to press down on me with all your weight. I want us to feel so heavy that we’ll never be lifted and transplanted somewhere new. We will never have to learn to be anybody else.
It is thirty-five minutes since I left his apartment; abandoned the beer bottles like carcasses all along the floor. We met again last night, each of us shining from showers and hair products, teeth pearly and my features drawn in kohl and red dye. He has a window that opens only a crack. We sit on the couch and face a mute TV. I feel his body relax next to mine. His belly has gotten a tiny bit softer, more endearing. I have come to get my things, which are sitting in a pile near the front door. Beer? I ask, even though that’s what he should’ve said. Beer, he says, taking a Pabst from the freezer, sorry. I take it and shake the slush, taking a long draw just to get a drop. We orbit each other. I see he’s cut his hair and it actually looks good. We watch TV and get involved in the characters. We rejoice in a girl’s dimples. The show is about NASA, and a girl floats with frizzy hair above her head. Something is very funny and we laugh. He takes my hand. Later, after we make love, I float next to him on the bed. I wash myself in his bath, see the ends of his hair drifting beside me. There are some things I will not understand.
None of Us
We pick the black crusted grease off the cheeseburgers. We look at the sky. We hunger for home. We watch the river, where there is a goose with netting wrapped around her wings. The netting is probably lawn netting because the earth around here is sliding into the river. We see a different goose, a crying goose, swimming in circles. We say nothing. We pull at our cheeseburger wrappers and wait for our tongues to numb to the salt. We pray but we pray separately, in our own separate ways. We wish things would’ve gone different. We make excuses then discard them, stumble along the green netting buried in the earth. We pass the tree where a homeless man leaned against and died. Drug overdose, the cop had said. But we have a different grief. We have grief that we sprinkle on our food at night. Grief that smudges itself on the bathroom mirror, trickles black down the drain from our charcoal toothpaste, gurgles in the toilet after we flush. Our grief needs us to remain vigilant to it, so we are. We say some words that seem light, normal, cheerful: the stars look so, the bridge lights are, the air sure is. We see our neighbors walking with their golden-haired child in the sunshine. The ground here is full of burrs that will stick to your socks and make you cry. The little girl, we notice, does not go barefoot in the grass but is bundled up, carried, ears like pink buds escaping her hat. We wipe our eyes with the edges of our mittens. We don’t look back. We wipe the mud from our hands. We wipe the blood on our jeans. We count the days we have gone without her. We imagine the empty shadowy womb, sullen as a plain rock wall. Refusing to give, refusing to grow, refusing to be photogenic, or anything to smile at.
Becca Yenser is a writer living in Wichita, Kansas. They are the author of the poetry chapbook, Too High and Too Blue in New Mexico (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). Their work appears in Hobart, Madcap Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Dostoyevsky Wannabe, and FANZINE, and is forthcoming in No Contact Mag and X-R-A-Y. They re working on a memoir.