by Meg Tuite
‘And in the manicured parks, only violets and lilacs and asters. All the colors of bruises, violence and disaster.’ –Kate Braverman
MIRRORS PAWN THE deviant out of anyone. Go ahead. Hotline coral lipstick over the muted thrush of festered gums. Someone a block away died harsh and blank as the soft peel of a flippant wind. Varicose cracks of the pavement cushioned him. Throngs tripped over the body, frowned at their shoes. Make-up was applied on a longer street with those bathed in a kaleidoscope of the next selfie. Gilded with purple pain, fingers scoured lower backs, necks, shoulders at stoplights. Rumors pinched into the kindling of old aches. What happened to autopsy results whispered through taut envelopes and dangling tissues? Flawed by life acres cropping the heads off tangled flesh; sweaty confessionals of overwrought innards yanked the leash to Owl Liquor Store. Mustering palpitations mapped that niche of space in aisle one and three housing the necessary bottles bogged under until bought and bagged.
‘We talk about fucking weather,’ Mom says. ‘Sister says the sun is a dirty wash of haze in California. Says it stalks through a fog not even clouds can track. And California throbs with the stench of desperation and obscurity.’ Mom sucks a deep inhale of smoke. ‘Maybe Chicago is the same. Can someone tell me how we became two cut-out women in a magazine swapping recipes? Last time Sister looked into my eyes, she was waning. Next thing I know, she’s dead. Sister sliced the something I wish I had the fearlessness to slice. Always thought I was the damaged one.’
Mom dragged out the Walmart gallon Vodka jug from the pantry. The crackle of liquid over ice sighed, ‘shipwrecked’ ‘you in trouble.’ ‘There ain’t no trouble,’ ‘wait; it’s empty’, and sure enough there’s nothing floating between ice until smug, slugging waterfall of vodka reclaimed its standing and the whole damn world was roaring and rocking as Mom swirled her glass.
Meg Tuite’s latest collection is ‘‘WHITE VAN.” She is author of five story collections and five chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging and is included in Best of Small Press 2021 and Wigleaf’s Top 50 stories for 2022. She teaches writing retreats and online classes hosted by Bending Genres. She is also the fiction editor of Bending Genres and associate editor at Narrative Magazine. http://megtuite.com.