June 1, 2014 by The Citron Review
by Anna Lea Jancewicz
Stepping on copper, walking all sweetfooted through the tender penny wishes, cold water to the crotch. My bare legs warble summerly songs. Songs we knew by heart in forbidden orange groves, beneath graffitied underpasses. Submerged, they sound like your deaf sister on a hot vinyl car seat. I pretend you are invisible there, I pretend I can’t see you seeing me. On the gusty periphery, the deep pockets of your cargo shorts spill out crisping beetles, Polish princes, prime numbers in long strings. Shared treasures, unforgotten.
There was that time I slept on your floor. Red bra, scabby knees, my nervous bedhead weaving itself into a nest for starlings. A suitcase of overdue library books smuggled across state lines. Your sweat smelled like honeysuckle and your fingers burned everything they touched. I mewled for a nightlight, so you left the bathroom door open to just a shy smile. In the morning, I went to the Piggly Wiggly and bought a chicken, hacked it to pieces on your kitchen counter, and fried it up fresh, because I was the kind of nineteen-year-old girl who knows what to do with a chicken.
Eating with our fingers, the grease soaked through the paper plates, slicked the formica, a sheen of grace. The outline of a Virgin Mary, the way she’d look if she were in a department store catalog, in a pointed bra, nice underwear. The kind of underwear that never get saggy with cheap elastic, never have bloodstains. You asked me to come back for your birthday, bake you a pie. Peach, you said, with a graham cracker crust. You sucked your fingers clean, the radio on top of the refrigerator started in with Motown, dreamy and danceable. Our slow-dance melted into goodbye kisses that blistered the wallpaper. But I never made the pie. Twenty years gone, passing by roadside fruit stands, peaches piled in pyramids, fuzzy and gold-rosy in the sun. Twenty years gone, I’ve been thinking about that pie.
I know I sent you emails when I was drunk. Sometimes, I remember a line or two. I always deleted them as soon as they were sent, bobbing out into the blue like messages in bottles. You never answered, I didn’t even know where you lived anymore. I didn’t know if you’d be here, to meet me at the fountain. But I knew you from a distance, knew your head, the way it hangs like a dry sunflower weighted with seeds. I knew you, from a distance.
Anna Lea Jancewicz lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where she homeschools her children and haunts the public libraries. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming at Literary Mama, Squalorly: Literature from the Other Side, Bitterzoet, Fuck Fiction, and Black Heart Magazine. Yes, you CAN say Jancewicz: Yahnt-SEV-ich. More at: http://annajancewicz.wordpress.com/