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A Life of Bricks MAG
She is born into a world of murky red-black walls, fists clashing, paint peeling,
Voices blasting like the bombs that she will learn about later –
Hiroshima, Nagasaki – in school.
She recalls her mother's shadow, a long thin snake against the doorway,
Stretching, pulled in impossible directions
One day her mother throws all her clothes and pills and cigarettes into a suitcase.
So they move out, to the epicenter of a smoke-screened city,
Brick buildings hulking darkly against the sky.
The plants here are black with soot.
But she takes the best of what she can find, and lives with it.
Sometimes she sees her mother's gaze wander,
A staring-off into space unsettling in its blankness
And on the occasions when, distracted from her play, she thinks to ask what is wrong,
Her mother simply smiles
(or at least her mouth curls)
“Nothing for little minds to worry about. Go play now.”
And, forgetting, she does.
Later, the child no longer peeks out of her eyes.
The tides have a pull on her now, shadowing the alleyways,
Masking strangers' faces.
She poses in front of her grimy mirror, practicing this pose, that one.
Boys whisper promises of love, of marriage, of fish and chips.
Years pass. Brick alleys turn to mildewed stone.
She and her husband have a cat now, who drags back reeking scraps from the deli
Where the smoke pumps out of the chimney, all day long like a mindless train, throat thickened.
She no longer calls him by his first name.
Staring down at her he has become part of their house; he is stone
She sees it while their cat howls in the airspace between heaven and the dark moss-choked hell.
The shadow of the animal snakes up the wall, and she thinks,
I've been here before.
But it's been too long for her to remember clearly.