Down the road near the place where we buried the arms and the legs and the
heads a man shot a hummingbird out of the sky, the explosion larger than
anything had ever been, and I remember you angry and blaming everyone,
especially me, crows glistening around you protectively, the statue of the
Blessed Virgin cracked and moaning and rolling. Yellow and orange leaves
were everywhere except on the long black arms of the trees stripped by
sixty-miles-an-hour winds, the twisters touched down eleven times while the
sirens screamed and thirty cars crashed on the highway and everyone ran down
into their cellars remembering snowflakes and even the summer but certainly
not television, not music, not love. Down the road where we worshipped the
heads of saviors you shot an arrow into the ground and the earth was
bleeding, the bloodspot widening and widening where men were fighting over
liquor and money and drugs and through the windows we could see women trying
on evening gowns, the earth couldn't heal itself but the birds threw crumbs
to each other in the air across the darkening sky and you drank black milk
and grinned. I never knew why you wanted me on a tether, why you hung me up
like a shot doe and why you scared me into becoming a rabbit with wide eyes,
why your love was suicide for me and why you didn't know that I'd read about
murderers and that I'd learned to regenerate limbs. It took me a long
time to forget you drowning that large black bird in the bathtub with all
its crackling feathers askew and I had to remember how to dance and sing and
wear rings that glinted like moonlight on the dance floor, free, free, free
and wild, dancing and not a banshee but also not tied up in the knot of your
dead bells ringing good morning, bad morning, bad day, good night and you
refusing to sleep or eat, refusing company and refusing to acknowledge fear.
Down the road where I told myself that in six months time would falter or
render me mortal and I'd survive and all those candles that I'd lit as a
child would now save me from the mourner's refrain, down the road I heard
about my actress friend who was stalked and hit in the back of the head
innumerable times with a brick after being lured with a white angora sweater
in a white box tied up with a colorful ribbon, a present, he put chloroform
on an embroidered handkerchief along with those scents that we all love,
rose, lavender, vanilla and especially French opium, those scents that tell
us that all is well and we're incapable of fainting. Why did you bring me a
turtle in a box, why did you call me your home, why did you roam in the lush
fields of my mind where poppies bloomed until their red heads were bloodied
by your unexpected blows? There where sunflowers swayed in the wind and the
willows were weeping and butterflies gasped and suddenly everything was slow
and still, where my sisters swam in their diaphanous gowns, their hair long
and damp and uncurled, the sun and moon looked down on us and they were
laughing, laughing, laughing, the Dark Ages were finally gone and we'd
closed the book on our fairy tale.

Christina Zawadiwsky has received an NEA, two Wisconsin Arts Board awards, a Co-Ordinating Council Of Literary Magazines Award, a Pushcart Prize, and an Art Futures Award. She was the originator of Where The Waters Meet, a weekly TV series on arts and social issues. She is a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology and the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award for her book The Hand On The Head Of Lazarus. She also reviews books and films and shows her visual artwork professionally.

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