Gas station glow past 3AM, the glassed look of a man who’s been sitting for too long, hot dogs slumbering behind a screen, their skins plump and pink.
The match that kisses my finger red.
A dog with a lipstick stain on her forehead that bites me, and for days I carry the hot mark on my arm.
Gesturing to the butcher on my own body where on the animal he should cut from. I say ribs, and circle my own bones with your hands, like I am inviting myself to dance. I say neck, and cup my neck, feel the pulse, yes, I’m alive. He gives me bones in a wet sack. He’s kind.
Stepping on an ant when I’m five and alive, and have just come to realize that alive applies to even ants. That first death, smearing beneath my reeboks.
The Grand Canyon tourists who die while taking a picture, while proving, yes, they are brave enough to live on the horizon.
Gas station glow past 3AM, the glassed look of a man who’s been sitting for too long, hot dogs slumbering behind a screen, their skins plump and pink. A piece of gum stuck to the bathroom door handle when I open it, anchoring me here, to this place, to this bright white light.
The smell of a scrubbed apartment, all its ghosts washed away.
And of course, my grandmother, whose broken legs curl up beneath her body like nursing pups, who cannot see or hear, who knows who I am just by touch, who traces the black mole on my arm, over and over again, who loves me so much because she does not know me, whose love, for some reason still feels like love, even though she does not know me, who is allowed to soil herself, who soils herself, who smells like flowers and excrement, who has not spoken to her sister in five years, because her sister cannot climb the stairs to my grandmother’s room, who once told me that I was too in English, who used to feed my dog slices of bread, back when she had teeth and legs and could walk and visit, who says, if only I had legs I would leave this place and come to you, who has legs, who has no wheelchair, who is not loved in the house where she lives but I do not live in the house where she lives, whose skin feels like paper soaked in water, whose forehead is soft and delicate, who looks at pictures of her young self and cries, who is dying so hard, who is dying, my grandmother begging me on the morning that I will take a cab to an airport and fly back to my American apartment, my grandmother begging me, because she knows she will never see me again, please, please, stay, stay, just a few minutes longer, and me, me, me leaving anyway.