In the back room, we have corrugated iron roofing, an altar with incense and angry plaster gods. The corners have leftover newspaper bits with oil stains, potatoes uneaten in a mouse trap, and the outline of your bedding. The pickup truck came by to take it away, we asked that it be burnt because you coughed for a year. And our clothes became too loose on you but the shoes still fit, so that was okay.
In the back room, you boiled 1 egg a night, ate it standing over the common sink and drank too fast, before the spots came. Then you picked the bile from your teeth with glass- sharp blades of grass, and in the morning your ribs looked me in the eyes, because you didn’t. And I waited to lose doubt and for you to assume the pungency of your normal skin.
You hid tobacco blood in tiny paper pouches in the car, then salt grains to soak it-- I thought vectors —graphs, insects, red rimmed, air borne, in a direction, away from here.
It was easy to send you away, we can’t have sickness in the big house, there is a child here. The skin between your brows was constant rubble, you were sculpted from sunlight slivers and tiger stripes. And everything that showed black from white, healthy from sick.
What will you do at home, you asked. It is the parentheses to your life in the back room, you wife, the afterthought. Your son tokes, turks, runs, repeats, he does not want you. But I’m convinced they can love more than rodents and gods.
You think, I will miss the food and you’re gone. Pearl onion musk, coconut oil, disco ringtone, torn wife beaters swinging like prayer flags from wash lines-- swept precisely clear.
I think, vectors. Is your name on my phone list infectious too?