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Atlas & Alice | Issue 5, Winter 2015/2016

shouldn’t want to flee it. But I wanted the moon, where there was no God and no oxygen. I wanted her and not God, who grew no hair upon his pubis. My mom, though, hungered for the plenty she thought God had provided, not knowing God preferred rabbits if you examined the evidence. No matter what I said, she believed in God regardless, and she sucked violently at a thinning fistula of air the moment my dad unplugged the ventilator once her body was eaten with cancer grown ravenous. She bit at a pillow instead of grasping my ankle under water. She extended a blue hand to a receding pocket of vapor. When I was six years old, however, we had nineteen years as yet left together, years when she dressed me in long peach dresses and cloud-covered socks. Years when the moon shone full enough for her to paint her toenails with her chin to her knee outside on summer evenings. Years when there was so much living I kept my astronaut helmet stowed on a shelf too high for me to reach and slept with my bedroom window wide open so I could better hear the sweet strum of cricket legs. Years when I fell asleep chewing grape bubble gum and my mom cut it out in clumps large as small mammals in the morning. Years when the crackle of her knees pulling weeds was so soothing a strain, a percussive melisma as natural as the music of the spheres mistaken for silence, unheard only because we heard it always. Years when I let myself forget about God and the moon both and took baths in a river too shallow to consider drowning an option. Years when I emerged the muddier after walking up the bank naked then dirtied the towel she wrapped me in. There were years too when I appeared to become a woman rather than a space traveler, as ordinary a vision as any mother could wish of her daughter. Years when I needed instruction how to cross my legs at dinner rather than careen weightlessly across a crater. Years when it was enough that I dry dishes without leaving any spots on them, that I not stain the sheets at night once I began bleeding from the blunt arrow between my legs that time only sharpened. Yet when the years reached their end, my husband said it was a waste, this constant swallowing of pills to attempt to disappear inside a lake that itself had vanished. I had missed my opportunity to drown and die beside her when she went before me. I would end by losing my hearing or incurring brain damage, to the point I couldn’t read a stop sign but would just keep walking. My mom had driven into the lake without me, and all I could think was, How long until I follow? I thought this even while knowing there was no new planet for us to meet—there were far too many, in even one small galaxy—once I doffed my helmet and let my body explode then fertilize the pea plants for those still going hungry. Yet there is no life without love, I tried explaining, and all the love had gone with her, as I knew it would from the beginning. I lay in bed saying “love, love, love,” and nothing else for days, because all the words I heard or said ran together, and she couldn’t hear

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Atlas and Alice - Issue 5  

Winter 2015/2016

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