If I Was Doing This For You, I’d Have Nothing Left To Prove
We’re up five-nothing when I notice the hole in my side. Some might call it small, some might call it gaping. I put my finger to the raw & it cuts me. Timeout, I say, but the opposing moons mock me instead. Homie so fleshy. They are ruthless. The meanest moon shoots again & makes it. The crowd is an ocean: it responds with a wave. I’ve been trying to find you, but all I see are moons. The mountains were mountains until they turned into moons. We are on the move again. We are crazy when we move—if there was string between us we would tie many knots. There are consequences for disobeying your orbit. If you were a moon, you would try to be different. You would think, I’ll stay for him here, but then you’d see the moons moving & you’d want to move, too. They swoop & dive & score from so far. I try to see past them. The hole begins to shrink as my lead slips away.
When the opposing moons tie the game, the hole is nearly healed. I’m not used to getting over things so quickly. Fuck your problems, say the moons on my team. They are pissed. Their dusty foreheads are streaked with glow. I was appreciated once, is what I want to say. I have been counted on for other things. But my job now is to score, and so I do: again & again. Some would call it luck, some would say I just went off. Again: the hole gets bigger. It is gaping & I don’t hate it. I want you to want to see me healed. The moons whip themselves into a fucking tizzy when we regain the lead. Chill out, bros, I say, but they are crazy fucking moons. I try to trace my wound, but now it’s bigger than me. I put the ball inside & the moons start charging. The wound takes one moon, then a second, then a third. Moons on moons on moons. I am all wound when I hit the winner. When I am stretched wide with moons & everything is moonless. When I am finally still. When I am waiting.
Girl, You Shut It Down Like Computers
You wear your new skin like a Persian shawl, an animal pelt that declares you a prize. This is all yours, you say, as if I am a hunter or an oil tycoon. I do appreciate the gesture—that one especially, your finger drawing clouds. But real talk: I want you to be comfortable enough in this to wear it anywhere. I want you to go out without me, show it all off like a little white dog. I want to be your little white dog. I want for you to look at me like a criminal when I say I liked the old skin better, the skin we shared & sheared. I say: I want in. I say it out of love. You look at me expectantly—an elaborate plan. I put my fingers between your fingers until we sweat something jagged. We sit like that together & listen for a seam.
Justin Brouckaert‘s prose has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Passages North, DIAGRAM, NANO Fiction and Smokelong Quarterly, among other publications. A James Dickey Fellow at the University of South Carolina, he serves as editor of Yemassee and fiction editor of Banango Street.
Photo by Jacob Spinks