Liz and I stand over the blood-black
stump trying to make sense of the past. This is after the what the X
in the snow in the past that is my brother's arms. This is a year after
my mother is gone and left us for Canada, for radio, for postcards from
The World's Biggest Pecan and the World's Biggest Crucifix. It is before
Liz will exit stage left on her way down to becoming another X in the
middle of the winter months.
The stump is hard on top. It has been here for years. She wants to know
what it is, what it's for. It is for killing chickens. It is for their
bodies for soup. It is for the way things are on farms. It is for my
father and his butcher knife gleam. It is for flesh.
I tell her it is for headlessness, and
she understands. This is why we are here.
I tell her it is for resonance.
Does she remember what the Oracle
said, what it told her? Will she ever tell it to me? I wonder as I stare
at the stump, which is black, which is half-soaked through with blood.
I can't tell what kind of tree it was from anymore. After the yearly
killings, and the transfer of meat into the deep freeze, I am told to
bleach it, and I do. All that does is sweeten the stink. Push it down
in the wood.
Liz is getting her own radio show
on the high school experimental public station. She's going to read
obituaries. They can't stop her, she says, since it's news.
What does she know and why won't
she tell me.
I say sure it's news, but won't
you run out pretty quick? It's only a weekly show, right?
She'll use the archives, she says.
The wind picks up and her hair looks
great in it.
Liz says she has to go. The sky
is beginning to darken. Even in summer it darkens so early. Something
about the angle between the earth and the sun. Or the distance between.
Or parallax, maybe.
Does she have to go already, I ask.
I don't get her. She means she's going away with her parents. To Canada.
For the last half of the summer.
Really—to Canada? I ask. She
doesn't mean like my mother. She doesn't know about the postcards I
get. I keep them in a jewelry box she left behind when she left. Now
Liz is going too. To Canada.
Where in Canada? is what I ask but
what I really want to know is when is she coming back.
Toronto. She'll be back in the Fall
just before school.
I ask her will she write. I mean
write to me.
Liz says of course she will write.
She says she'll bring me back amethyst crystals.
Some amethyst is the color of blood
before it dries.
When is she going to go. What does
When are you leaving, I ask. She
says she's leaving tonight with her parents in the back of their car.
Why didn't she tell me this before?
Will she look out the back. Will
we wave. Will we embrace.
She tells me she'll miss me. To
take care of my brother. To find her some good obituaries. She says
to take my brother to the Paulding light. She says she'll write and
tell me everything.
I'm glad she will write. I tell
her take care. We embrace, but it's forced. And it's awkward. There
is no radio. There is lots of wind and her hair comes around to sting
my neck. It is a small punishment that I'm glad to receive.
She takes the car and the dust from
the road with her as she drives away. I make an X in the air with my
hands. I am alone by the stump with the wind and the cotton insides
of my pockets. It feels colder, like maybe like snow.