Pelage

A prowl through a familiar neighborhood like passeggiato in the old country, your overcoat with the pelted neck over your arm, despite the heat. You once claimed to feel emotion like a great spasm, intense and intermittent. An inconvenient thing to be endured. She would wait in her carpet slippers, after anointing herself with the drugstore cologne that she kept in the Frigidaire, and smooth her skirt with gnarled hands. The interminable percolation of the coffee on the blue gas ring was like commiseration. You present yourself over the threshold (let us imagine) like a dissident and her happiness sounds like a muffled strangulation (we imagine, further). You are like a grenade in her life, thrown from a distance. Neither her thick cardigan sweaters, nor the tiny Star of David around her fleshy neck will protect her. The coffee, bitter and full of grounds (with a hint of cinnamon) will cool in the cups, as you sigh extravagantly. Your intentions are utilitarian, like a hunting knife, though in your younger years the potential for damage was greater. You begin to carve everything to your own desire. The sweat on her upper lip is a shimmer in the bright kitchen light. Blood on the carpet, sinew in the sink. She, he, you, her. Nothing but anxiety in her grooved, inscrutable face.

Michelle Reale is the author of Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and In the Blink of a Mottled Eye (Kelsay Books, 2020), among others. She is the Founding and Managing Editor of OVUNQUE SIAMO: New Italian-American Writing. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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