At five, we went outside and under the tree put dirt clumps and pebbles in the coffee grinder. She stood over my head, took the handle, and twisted and twisted. I writhed in the sun like an animal plucked out of sea as she coated me with a constellation of dust. “Like Parmesan at the restaurant,” she said. Or pepper, or salt.

At six, she saved me from a tree.

At eight, she moved away.

At ten, we went up to the basement with brown light and yellow furniture. “Let’s try it,” she said, “you first.” And I sucked at her neck; first it was nice, then it hurt. “You’re supposed to do the ear, too.” “Isn’t that a wet willy?” I said. I had heard about those. “And what if I suck wax out of your ear?” A hummingbird levitated outside the single window, incandescent green, watching. It had raspberry stains on its neck, too. Like tribal tats, I suppose; but ours faded.

At twelve, we tried on her mother’s bras and tangas and photographed ourselves like pinups. On the same roll of film we photographed our shit bobbing in the toilet, took a picture with the rat-tailed mailman, and one of the sticky lollypop that moved in and out of her dog.

At fifteen, she watched a boy hold me, push his purple mentos into my mouth. We drank daiquiris afterwards. She saluted me, gravely, for conquering a man. She put ointment on my pink summer itches.

I don’t know where she is now or what kinds of insects flutter around her garden. Perhaps they crawl or burrow.


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