Thank you for coming. I am so happy to see you after all of this time. Can you believe it has been almost so long? I used to be quite something. Remember. We were fourteen. Breasts and blood smell that is why I sat next to you so we could whisper blood words but you wanted to talk about Cat Stevens so I listened to you sing off key and I sniffed your blood smell and knew we would be friends always like today. You gave me candy then and now you will bring me things whenever you come to my house and I will wait for the candy that you will pretend to have forgotten again. I will remind you of my elegance, my wit and my beauty and you will be stunned all over again at the immensity of what I used to be in comparison to what I have become and I will take your hand and bring you into my home and I will tell you what you want to know. I will tell you I am not contagious but you will not want to drink my water. You will not want to sip my tea or take the chocolate from my hand. When I offered you a ginger ale and you politely declined I was amused for the first time in months.
Now I have you in my house for a moment of time while you listen to my stories and stare at my face and you plot your escape. You look at your hands and you look at my hands and you say these are her hands and these are my hands and I don't have to touch you too much before it is polite to leave.
But you will come back. For our reunion. You won't be able to help yourself. You will come with your helpfulness and your suggestions, your lists and your condolences and you will bring your trash bags and your Hoover and your sponges. I will be waiting for you behind the curtain.
During this our first visit in fact forever of our visits you won't know where to look. Do you like my face you remember my eyes. Are these my mother's glasses? Mothers glasses from graduation night? Our graduation night she lost those glasses and we joked with her over the cheap champagne. We let her believe that this was our first champagne to make her feel happy and make her drunk and take her mind off her glasses. She was a funny drunk until she cried. Do you remember? Yes they are my mother's glasses. The ones she had left in the auditorium the ones she couldn't find for a week while we convinced her she would be happier in contacts. And she bought her contacts and when we found her glasses she didn't need them any more well yes I did take them because even then I knew they were magic glasses that I would need later that I would need today. So you will not want to stare too long at my glasses or you will find six memories.
And my hair. My hair hurts your hands. My hair is Medusa black cutting into my scalp and my cheeks and your hand if you try and smooth my snarls and my mats with the edge of your hand. My hair is honest patches gone to grabbing hands and cut glass rubbing too hard against stone to become clean. So you will not like to look at my hair.
Not my eyes behind the glasses or worse when I remove my glasses to get a better look at you and see more clearly if I want to see more clearly. My eyes milky blue a shadow of that clear girl blue multiple intelligences, multiplication tables or algorithms that explained things. Not those eyes now. Now yes two eyes still flecked in brown with rings of gold sequence. Yes there was a diagnosis.
My teeth. Black crags of carnivores devouring mothers and the tiny biting of lip and tongue and teeth the scraping of teeth against him or another some other scraping of teeth against flesh in passion or sex or avarice and meat. Teeth black charred bits no gate way now to pass now open and a black abyss of openness ripe for dicks and candy. Where did my teeth go? Lost with out remembering in one day. Did they crumble while I slept or did they slowly drip out of my mouth in thin black juice leaking their calcium and bone onto the carpet. I don't care now.
What is left to look at? Skin onion thin and yellow covering a film of water ready to be milked of water and blood. Skin that I shed in long sheets while I sleep the dreamless sleep of the invalid, free of disease but now without occupation. You wouldn't like to touch my skin. Not even out of curiosity.
My skin bites. I have a bottle of gin. I told you about the gin on the phone and you said you would come and now you are here watching me afraid. I see your pulse beat in the hollow of your neck like it would beat when your father would call you upstairs. And I sat sipping a coke then thinking she should not go upstairs and when you came down stairs red face scratched against hair I would say you shouldn't go up stairs sometimes it is better not to go upstairs and you would open a coke and take one long sip and spit in the sink once as a settling of a score left unfinished yet. You say your father is dead. Shame dead. No points paid.
You have to pee. You want to know where the bathroom is but you are squeezing your legs together to control your bladder and your curiosity. Contagions are always in the bathroom. On the toilet seat, on the hand towel not washed in how many months stiff with sickness and mold and old cum never washed away. Go to the bathroom and sneak like a thief into my medicine cupboard and you will come out and say oh I was looking for a Tylenol but you were looking for five reasons. You want to understand.
That is what you will say later when you leave me for an interval of leaving time you will say oh I want to understand what happened, oh I need to understand how I can help her, want to know what we what I what we could have done to help her then before the now time that is what she has become. You want to know what happened so you don't become her to make sure you have not become me already.You want to isolate and vaccinate and indoctrinate yourself against the me that will be you in an hour or a week or a hundred days of remembering. And forgetting for just an hour sitting who is the one who can leave this room and drive the red car and leave this imagining of future possibilities. Neither of us will leave then.
Where else is left to stare? My hands bloody knuckles yellow skin nails raw with clawing red blood gums. Medicine some prescribed some omitted in the diagnosis bits of wool and yarn and string.
Hot blood red mittens not those hands on the piano playing Chopin. Remember back in school when Mr. Callow would say listen to the cadence the rise and fall of emotion, now this is Chopin under her fingers, her hands her instrument a slave under her hands unleashing Chopin. And Mr. Callow would look at my hands would see not my hands but some long roots growing there on the keys like the roots of a piano tree, tree birthing piano, birthing Chopin in my virgin womb still vibrating Chopin in my naiveté of flesh. Callow wanted me. He wanted me and he watched my ass as I slid along the bench reaching the next register with my long thin arms, my baby hands reaching not for him and not for Chopin but for old wood green tree. Then. Now dead music.
You can't look at the floor. It is not my blue veined feet that worry you over a thousand years of walking on coals, glass, fetuses. No my carpet concerns you. Birds the sky turned up side down a gray slate rug sky with dead birds flying in their abandoned bone and beak and feather carcasses. Look at the finches. They have brown bodies and red faces. Blood orange beaks pecking the eyes of that one still alive still blind bleeding they peck the eyes first and sip bits of iris and sweet sucking life gone almost already six months living in the drop ceiling tiles and she comes down for water six months of thirst and hunger watching from the ceiling tiles. She comes down for one sip and they are on her in an instant. They smell her. She will be dead in an hour or a day. The others will take what they want and leave the rest and I can't bare to touch them then. My carpet is their grave sky, all loose scattered bits. Dignity in the skeleton memory of flight.
There they are: Sky bird and Chipper, Lucy and Ophelia, Tommy and Mitchell and that one there with the black beak Lazarus. An obvious name for him but his first day in my new sky the others got him and held him and he lay like a dead man for a day and when they left him without an eye with most of a beak gone, speckled red with their blood for clawing each other in the ecstasy of feeding they left their blood on his mouth and from the blood grew an eye and a black beak of iron and he rose from the dead on to my hand and took blood nectar from my palm while the other birds circled my feet and they called him in their cacophony they called him Lazarus. Lazarus takes the first eye. Should I vacuum the bird shit and spilt seed and bones. Not today. Their work isn't finished. Tomorrow I take the bus to the pet shop to pick up my order. My standing order of brown birds with red faces and expendable eyes.