What The Dead See
Resting my head on the mossy stone beneath the fruit trees, listening to Dad mouth off, and the katydids, I'd count peaches, cross my arms over my chest, and let the wind fool with my bangs. That's how I practiced dying and never coming back. It was an art I knew, like lying, or taking the whole world inside and letting it burn. No one was there to set the record straight, the womb I fell from, soused with liquor. Besides, there was any kind of excuse. I was younger than I ever knew in air swimming with insects. Sometimes, talking with him on the patio about the folks who have gone from this world, I felt them, like they were fish bones caught in my throat. The dead see things, he said, they don't even let on to the devil they know. The living do too. Like my head was a transistor radio, he wanted to find that gospel station, make me fear the Lord. His breath warm on my face, a whiff of fish thawing, the rain like small feet on the lake, I'd watch it and sip from a green Co-cola bottle slow, wondering what the Lord and devil don't know, seeing nobody seeing us. Nights, when Dad came home late, the headlights crossed my ceiling, the shadows kept falling and falling. I was good at faking shit, like sleep, like caring what I did. Afterwards, I'd listen. It seemed the dark would look at itself and hum, like children whispering so soft, no one heard their words.