Wednesday, October 13, 2021
St. Teresa’s Day a cadralor by Lauren Scharhag
I am seven when the first migraine seizes me in its jaws.
I’d spent the night on my grandmother's floor, Sirius prowling the July sky. Glaring afternoons pass like the whine of a mosquito, the nights craving the weak gust of a box fan, kicking off sodden sheets, wanting to climb out of my own skin. Sharing a bed is an impossibility.
I try to raise my head and this, also, proves impossible.
From the kitchen comes the drone of bacon, my grandmother’s voice
telling me to come eat. The world has become unbearable.
If I could form a thought, it would be only to find some way of escaping it. The pain is almost mystic, a seraph’s spear piercing my skull, a holy trepanation.
At a discoteca in Madrid, a boy wants to kiss me, and I dance away.
I live for the open air mercados, lunching on manchego and baguette slices. In Puerto de Lapices, I eat green olives from the grove outside.
I make my pilgrimage to the Prado, soaking in the cool dark, the cathedral silence. Its masters, Velazquez and Bosch and El Greco, await my adoration. Goya haunts me, especially the dog, alone,
looking up at something only he can see.
I’m afraid to be the dog, alone with my visions,
at the mercy of my senses, at the mercy of everything.
The apartment behind the club. Our balcony faced the alley.
Throb of bass every night, drunks fighting and vomiting over the fence,
tinkle and crash of bottles. Nonetheless, we strung up a hammock.
There was a fruit and flower stand on the corner.
We bought a basket of cherries, and two bougainvillea that bloomed
impossible shades of heliotrope and Fanta orange all summer.
We swung beneath them, petals falling on our faces.
I spat cherry pits over the railing, hoping that one of them
would take root, a childish wish for a tiny oasis,
lush leaves and ruby fruit.
4.The Blue Ridge
The year my father and I road tripped along the Blue Ridge.
I could barely take in the spectacle of it: lowland fields of sunflowers,
bursts of cattle birds, white as salvation, and runnels of water
cascading down out of the granite steeps. At a roadside stand
a solitary woman sells peaches. She offers us three bushels
in exchange for my father’s collie. No deal. We buy the peaches outright, our hands stained with their juice all the way to Asheville, stickying the seats. It starts to rain. Homeless men huddle around a metal trashcan fire. I skip stones across the Shenandoah. The mist is a cool hand on my brow. I can breathe here. In these woad-colored mountains, I can breathe.
That night the call came from the transplant center, sleep was out of the question. So I cleaned the kitchen, folded laundry, my mind blank with terror. Someone had died. Someone had died so that we might live. A thief in the night stolen in. I look up, my head a fruit that’s gone soft, pulp ready to yield up the hardness at its center. You were not with me,in the mountains, in the marble halls, but you were. You were not with me on the shag rug of my agony, but you were. All that pain, all the panic and paralysis,all the prayers, all the bargains I’d made with the universe. (If I deny myself this, my reward will be that much the sweeter.) This is what I’d been waiting for. Tomorrow, in the operating room, I won’t be with you, but I will be. I will be with you.
Lauren Scharhag is the author of fourteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 100 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize, two Best of the Net nominations, and acceptance into the 2021 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com
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