So today, yet another Guyanese will try to run the border
dressed in a dead housewife’s hair—all they’ve recovered
since her disappearance in a downtown shopping mall.
An “incident,” the paper says. Another “routine occurrence”—
wresting my trust from the publicans
assigned to keeping us safe, whole. Rather:
vow to stay vigilant against the maiming
that waits in each landscape, even in this
mundane procession of muddy spring days. To see
the tenacity of rooted hair for what it is:
an illusion as fleeting as courage. To keep the meat
between one’s ribs from being torn, to keep the hard
marble of the cranium covered with its own skin.
To stay vigilant. To watch the signs of violence stirring
even in one’s own machine. To keep both breasts
attached and undiseased. To keep the womb empty;
and yet to keep the organs living there
from shriveling like uneaten fruit, from turning
black and dropping. And not to mistake the danger
for a simple matter of whether
to put the body on the streets, of walking
or of staying home—; there are household cleansers
that can scar a woman deeper than a blade
or dumdum bullets. The kitchen drawers are full of tools
that lie unchaperoned. Even with the doors and windows
bolted, in the safety of my bed, I am haunted by the sound
of him (her, it, them) stalking the hallway,
his long tongue already primed with Pavlovian drool.
Or him waiting in the urine-soaked garages of this city’s
leading department stores, waiting to deliver up the kiss
of a gunshot, the blunted kiss of a simple length of pipe.
But of course I mean a larger fear: the kiss
of amputation, the therapeutic kiss of cobalt.
The kiss of a deformed child. Of briefcase efficiency
and the forty-hour workweek. Of the tract home:
the kiss of automatic garage-door openers that
despite the dropped eyelid of their descent do nothing
to bar a terror needing no window for entry:
it resides within. And where do we turn for protection
from our selves? My mother, for example, recommends marriage—
to a physician or some other wealthy healer. Of course
it’s him, leering from his station behind her shoulder,
who’s making her say such things: the witch doctor,
headhunter, the corporate shaman, his scalpel
drawn & ready, my scalp his ticket out.
Lucia Perillo, “The News (A Manifesto)” from Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones. Copyright © 2016 by Lucia Perillo. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Time WIll Clean the Carcass Bones (Copper Canyon Press, 2016)
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