Since yesterday, I had never been in more want than now for a good-sized peach. I tell my mother my name is Harem, she asks me what I do, what my vocation is, I tell her I throw buildings off cliffs, sever melon heads and attach them to other severed melon heads—these ones slightly more deranged, not decomposed, but fucked enough to look like I ate a cunt with my elbows; you know, the saying, what a lark!—until them melon heads start looking like one or the other. I don’t eat no melons but they sure eat me. My mother says that I got a mouth worth centuries. Says I talk like I lived to see her death and came back to tell her about it in riddles and demon tongues—harbingering, thaumaturgy. Lampooning the stalk of a giant. Says I’m just as bad as Koockstin when it comes to trying to describe a good day. Often I hear her at night, coming into my bedroom when the moons full; creaking up against the floorboards I can hear the dead skin of her ankles. I can smell them in the morning, her footprints, thick as snow. She always lifts up my shirt, looking, I guess, for scars or new hair. Maybe thinking I’d turn into one of them wolfbears. One time a bloodstain and she whacked me with a paddle—she always be carrying some cooking utensil in her apron that apron never coming off—don’t know what she’s thinking going to church with a pot in her belly. Told her I swallowed a tooth that time. She kissed me and let me touch one of her painted fingernails, for hours. Stroking it, I thought it’d catch on fire. I’m a porous body, but don’t you dare hold me like a sponge. Beetlebulbs and flowers. Rosewater and saffron. Don’t know what else she’s looking for. Checking to see if I’m still a man. So many things can happen in a night. You got a pause in your heart she says when I’d done something bad, but that don’t stop her from hitting me with a spade. One time she chased me down to the river with the hunking metal, yelled out my name, my real name, as if I’d disappear or turn into fine powder—she’d like that, she would; be worth more to her than anything I’d ever done so far. What good is it trying to talk with a mirror? Trying to speak faster than you can see your lips move, oh, it’s haunting! I have nightmares where I outrun my shadows, and then what?
Prathna Lor lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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