aquinas never understood
why he masturbated every morning

with those devil women witches in his head. if he would have heard us
in her truck at midnight on the steel city overpass
proving the pi fibbonaci sequence
in the spiraling of hips, in the serpent woman dance
of the ancients, he would have seen god
so certainly clear crowned with seven nagas and curls
of dark brown. he would have found his name
in the fire-letter flicks of our tails’ arabic allure. he would have said,
i love you, whores.

She’s named for the thing people are killing, the wild mystery at the heart of the world, silent velvety ghosts that dart away in the dark of the graveyard: deer. Her father hunts them and she is forever stumbling across bones, the skeleton of the deer he killed last week, last month, last year, beautiful among the plants, trash, and memories. It means nothing and everything all at once, her name does. Everything and nothing at once.

It’s been years. She’s changed. Mostly her bones have rounded: no longer sharp and pointy they still jut out a little under firmly stretched muscle. Hers is a body that walks all over the city, walks deep into the womb of this poisonous place and understands it all. But even where others are reduced to fetal placidity, every thought fed to them by electronic umbilical, even when the numb people talk to her with their plastic smiles and fancy shoes she smiles back, alive in her flesh, and says the perfect things while I listen dumbly, my mouth full of citysleep.

It’s night and we are walking in the graveyard, hiding from trash pickers and soul savers, peeing on trees, wishing for deer. The trees here are out of a fairy tale story book, all evenly spaced and perfectly groomed, like the dead people. The oldest dead people have cool names, Marisol and Saraha and Demity. The new dead person is a Walker, and she laid in his freshly dug grave the night before he did, high on lust and intensity with her summer lover. Girls like us always have summer lovers, and we always become Walkers. We talk to gargoyles on crypts that look ancient but are probably fresh, like the fresh old money of this city. They are laying down, so we can’t tell if they are man gargoyles or woman gargoyles, but we think they wouldn’t leave child gargoyles to guard the dead. She says that ancient mythological gargoyles were women. It’s just this crazy new city culture that makes them men.

Walking to the graveyard, in front of a green and white striped house that my dog peed on yesterday, she told me that in the book she’s writing about us we go back to where I came from to take revenge on the judge that gave me to my dad when I was a kid. He was a Mormon judge, and he called my mom a hysterical woman and a bad wife for saying that he hit her, that he raped me. Bad wife, hysterical woman, no kids for you. So my sister and I went to live with my dad, and he tied me up and cut me and raped me and my baby sister slept in a tent so she wouldn’t see, got hysterical if anyone zipped it open before morning. Damn hysterical women, I would sigh and roll my eyes. My sister hates hysterical women now, gives me that same old eye roll. In the book about us, she tries to save me and then it turns out that I don’t need saving by the ocean.

She always shocks me like this. Months of intermittent emails and then, boom, a book about my oldest wounds. Always.

Earlier we were in her apartment, talking about cunt smells, the good kind, the bad kind, and the strength of them. I say strongness of smell isn’t bad. My cunt smells pretty strongly. Tara, she says looking straight at me with her eyes that are the same as mine, I am very familiar with the smell of your cunt. Suddenly I wonder how many people there are in the world who are very familiar with the smell of my cunt without having been my lover or even been near me in years. I think she’s the only one.

Deer move out from a distant tree line and disappear behind another crypt, more dead people. The deer are dying, she says again, they represent all the wildness and enchantment in the world, in us, and they are being killed. Her father kills deer, and she is proud of him for taking his own meat, not paying for the disembodied deaths of tortured cows. Where I am from there are no deer, just moose, sometimes caribou. Moose don’t run from people. They are big and they know they could stomp us right out, so mostly they just look at us placidly, occasionally considering charging us or running away. This is the difference between her and I, the heart of it. She is the enchanted nymph in the woods, always appearing in dreams and latenight graveyard walks, just to disappear, leave you wandering, searching, losing your way in the death of it all. And I am a moose.

We stop in front of a woman statue. The kind that monotheistic, patriarchal religions have, one big, graceful cosmic titty above all the dead people. We suck. Of course we do, and she tells us our fortunes. Our futures and our guts, like mashed rose petals, delivered through each others mouths.


  1. Damn, that is good.

    You just took me back to a book I read five years ago, about two sisters who become self-sufficient deer women and burn their last bridges to ever return. It’s called “Into the Forest,” by Jean Hegland (Bantam Books, 1998). It seems you have been walking in that same enchanted forest.

  2. I envy both your skill at imagery and luck in friends. Would that I had friends I could sit around with and discuss in detail good and bad cunt smells. It’s so fucking basic, and yet it’s just not discussed among polite society–and I’m sure none of my friends have ever really thought it.

  3. I think I peed my pants a little after reading this- not only because it’s the most beautiful thing anybody ever wrote about me, but also because it’s just wicked amazing writing. wow!

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