by Caroll Sun Yang
Niggling. Is the feeling, the right word. The sensation is Belladonna Blue. Like a Ford Falcon tilting on a muted roadside, dusky Oleander petals slide across the dash, one she loves me/ two she loves me still. An itch that can’t be located is the aura, lapping my hot skin. The base of my skull feels swollen with bees. Silk sheets twist at my waist. Blinking hard, trying to understand what breathing is, what time is, what walls are, how colors work, what fingers do, what is understanding? My legs ache, but what are legs? Seems I’ve been aroused, from deep siesta, what day is this? My heart bangs hard. The room smells different- a nitrous warmth, floral yet... off. This niggling, a peanut of guilt, an ugly seed bedded in an otherwise normal me. Why won’t it grow memories? What is it I have done?
The room suggests nothing extraordinary. Clearing dust off the pane with a cuff of sleeve, you witness loneliness. The abode signals sorrow. Fawny dust settles everywhere, webs go ignored, shoddily stitched holes show no shame, empty picture frames forget nothing, cookie cutters punch floral dough, and an Aesop mug makes mold. A thousand books litter the floor. He is everywhere in there. He loves gardening, fables, baking and the pet (a newly barren cow called No Milk Maiden). Didn’t he plant snowflake flowered Hemlock, falsely demure? His fertile parcel sown with Snakeroot, Oleander and more. Was his mastery of confection growing him sad fat? Didn’t he tell stories for no one to hear, a hundred different ways? All day the cow grazes, still swollen with newly lost babe and dribbling sick milk, eyeing things unseen. They make home. When was the last time he ventured far?
Marie, in parched desert cruising with me.
Marie, sweet womb full of our seed.
Marie, hurt crawling across desert sand.
Marie, in lone clinic gripping my hand.
Marie, last choking pale blue with tears.
Marie, low lain with Lilies by her ear.
The neighbor children visit -- the ignored kind. They come to fawn over Maiden, mooing like calves and gobbling sweets. They stroke the dripping heifer, laughing orphan laughs and hiding in green nooks, they discover one another. The man observes, happy to see the garden employed, but missing Marie more. “Children, I have a fresh baked pie for you, with Maiden’s last cream! Sit with me!” They eat to the gills, the man too spooning pie to mouth, proud of his creation. The flaking crust a salve. The ivory pudding a creamed joy. Macerated fruits run red. The whipping is rain clouds with artful peaks. They eat until they forget. They gobble woes away. The day is sublime with gut pleasures and unlikely unions.
At dusk, he lays down to rest, entering dreams to the sound of sugared squeals. The seconds tick off towards the inevitable. Children slump and foam and fall into a delirium, it is not uncomfortable, that pile of good children. The man does not know. In the garden, seizing children with cherried mouths have fallen, one by one. Lipstick cherubs bedded in tangles. Lavender shadows blanket them. The hardness of life wiped from their brows. A chorus of sighs released. Eyes closed so gently now see the mystery. Starry white flowers their communal bed. The cow stands above them, bows her head, issuing woeful calls not heard, and the milk pearls fall. Her eyes are the sunset. The flies hover. The bees work. Worms stretch. Blush lilies rise in hard packed earth. Marie trills, sugared nails. What is it she has done?
Caroll Sun Yang earned her BFA at Art Center College of Design, an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and holds certification as a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist. Her work appears in Hunger Mountain, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Columbia Journal, Diagram, Juked and others. She is the Associate Editor for The Unseasonal. She survives in Highland Park, Ca with her brood. She is always down for lo-fi anything/ sarcasm/ dogs/ Latrinalia/ frosting/ Cheetos/ feels. She spews forth gobs on Facebook and Instagram, get at me. www.carollsunyang.com