Family show

Dad says, “Get the fuck over here… Get your asses over here!” They are four and five, the younger one chubby and rude, grabbing whatever she can get, hands grubby from grabbing for what never turns out to be love. The other girl, button-eyed and silent, strives for invisibility. She pretends that her life is just a television program she is watching, that could change at any time if she wanted. The parents’ eyes like sanded bullets, dull and hard, hair greasy, too much going on to get it all together. Yanking arms and barking threats. If they’re like this in public, the whispers wonder, what do they do to those kids at home? Not able to put on the show of acceptability that other troubled families play, richer troubled families with fences and houses, with combed hair and clean clothes, but whose well-fitted windows still leak accusations and cussing, suspicion and manipulation. The misery seeps from tight seams there; here it gushes around this mother and father, causing bystanders to veer away, fearing their own hems will be stained if they get too close.

Ayiti

I miss my arm, my right arm. I cannot see it. Sometimes this is because my eyes are closed. Sometimes this is because there is no light. But even when my eyes are open and the light shines in, I do not know if it is there. Anyhow, my arm is of no importance now, though I have much time to think about it. I am not sure why time goes so slowly or what I am supposed to learn here lying under the weight of my house, waiting. Who knew such a small house could be so heavy? Perhaps it is the five hundred years of history pressing down as well. I try not to think or ask anything; these hurt. Instead I imagine I am eating fruit that falls from the sky without weight. The juice drips down my chin. I’ll swallow this fruit until I drown in purple juice, not thinking, not asking.

I miss my other half. The boy who was stomping one leg, then the other, pretending to be a giant, though he only ever rose to my hip. He is nearby but he makes no sound. He did sing, all night, but then light came back through the gaps and told us that the night was over, and I hear his song no more. So. We both make no noise now. Perhaps his feet awoke the giant quake. Perhaps his song was too much joy for this land. Perhaps he will be a bird next time. A bird who drops fruit to the thirsty. Or perhaps he will be a left side, and I will be a right. We will join at the heart.