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How I Gonna Bare My Neck Outside in the Sweat-Scared Morning

By
November 15, 2012

Six feet tall and arms like bundled wire. He go strutting the length of the house.

http://www.guernicamag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/delaney_pink_toes_575px1.jpg

Because he always running around with his pants flung off slobbering toward my apple-thighs and me saying slow down, honey, I see you. You running and I read you. Put your ankles over your own goddamn head. Because what am I, some kind of hooked meat, some Japanese bird made for bending?

Six feet tall and arms like bundled wire. He go strutting the length of the house. Bottle cap pried up with his long bad teeth, spitting tin and blood in the trashcan and turning to put that sweet mouth on me, saying, Heart, come closer. Come here. Loving in your wolfish, in your wicked.

So stay inside. Windows shut. The air conditioner busted, going drip-drip-drip in an old glass jar all night long and the fleas bite and the off-key bells of the Protestant church going Home, home, home.

I’ve known you and known you and known you. For always all cramped up in your bedroom like little. See this: this marks the sixteenth August what you told me it’s too toxic to go outside.

This late in summer, you always say, Is when the marsh fungus gets hot enough to kill.

It’s so hot and humid, understand, that it sends up spores. You know what spores is? Like sperm from plants, see. And it kills human beings. But only when it’s hot enough. And now it’s hot enough.

So stay inside. Windows shut. The air conditioner busted, going drip-drip-drip in an old glass jar all night long and the fleas bite and the off-key bells of the Protestant church going Home, home, home.

August always means this way: all locked up walking around in the living room. What I got when you leave me here alone: detergent. Turkey necks. Some ratted-up magazines full of celebrities, but all of them blonde ladies dead now.

Understand, I been scared these many years. Painting my toe nails pink in the dark. Sittin’ around and believing you. Keeping the shutters closed, the doors. And not wanting to stick my head out where no devil-plant-sperm gonna come choke the life out of me.

Only—here’s what it is now.

I done woke up in the gray wash of hot early morning with already Louisiana wooly heat clamping down the windows, a hot square of Gulf sun burning at my leg and the Protestant bells going harm, harm, harm. And I hear: buzz buzz. I see a fat little mosquito flutting along. Coming at my juicy veins. Landing on my thigh. I press one slow thumb against him, smear, and there that bright blood, that’s my insides gulping air.

But then I figure. A mosquito. Coming from the outside. Where it must have found people for drinking. Live people. Not choked-out people. Real people, walking around, sucking up God’s atmosphere.

So no more waiting in the living room ‘til you come home, take the gas mask off, say, Heart, it’s a blister out there.

See, I can do it too. I know how to bite down on the living. Make a go from the blood of others. Tonight, while you sleep, I’m flinging open the front door. Come hell. High water. I’m gonna breathe deep in the sweltered night. And then, heart, you won’t even hear me—I’ll close the door quiet behind me, and walk into the untouched heat, moving off alone, like a woman should.

G

Author Image

Delaney Nolan’s fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Grist, Huffington Post, PANK, Post Road, The South Carolina Review and elsewhere. Her forthcoming chapbook, “Louisiana Maps,” is the winner of the 2012 Ropewalk Press Fiction Editor’s Chapbook Prize. She is a Sozopol fiction fellow and a Bread Loaf work-study scholar, and in January she will be the artist-in-residence at Klaustrid in east Iceland. She can be found at delaneynolan.com.

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2 comments for How I Gonna Bare My Neck Outside in the Sweat-Scared Morning

  1. Comment by james claffey on November 15, 2012 at 10:55 am

    pretty goddamned wonderful. really, stirs the soul to read something this good.

  2. Comment by Justin Daugherty on November 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Effing outstanding, beautiful, Delaney. Just wow. KILLED it.

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