White Family


She looks like she is a ghost because she has whitened her skin. It is a skin whitener. He thinks that he can see through her. I can see the bookshelves on the other side of her, he thinks. You are a tramp, he thinks. I have fat fingers, he says instead.

Do you like how it is white and elegant and it looks like the people in the paintings who are rich.

She has on a white nightgown. The nightgown is white like she is white. We have white wallpaper, he thinks. My wife is a fucking nightmare, he whispers. He is in the kitchen, next to the cupboards, and the window. It is fog outside and it is damp outside and it is already spring.

He stopped drinking or started drinking again. He cannot remember. He had become sick and turned his sheets in the morning, turned his sheets and vomited on the wood to wood floors. He was deafened by screaming. She had bruised flaking skin and it was white. I knew you were going to be my wife, he says out loud but she is not in herself and she does not listen.

His wife is white and bruised and she looks like she is a ghost. His mother was white, untouched and covered and then white and covered and stale and unmovable and buried in the backyard under the oak tree that turned and rotted in the winter.

You should have been a woman, his father had said. That fucking tree should die, his father had said. And they had moved, out of the south and into the north—into a small house next to another small house on a street with a lot of small houses. All the houses were all gray or all black or all uncolored. All the houses had basements without windows. He went to the basement when it was dark and he couldn’t sleep and his father was twisted in the mattress.

Still, the wettened dreams are unguarded in the basement. He is sickened and trolled and he urinates methodically on the floor. Estranged, he tries to find his brothers and his sisters. He undigs the lawn. But they are buried in the south and the neighbors in the north look like factory workers because they work in factories.

And yet he still wakes in the night, sweated and touched. The screamed are deafeners. He bleeds the sheets. He cannot remember if he is drinking or if he has stopped. She is still unattached and she will not respond to him. You have turned into a ghost, he says and he knows that she has decided, a while ago, not to reply.


Geoff dies. He is six, five when he gets sick. Merryl dies. She is fifteen, or sixteen. Stan dies. He is eleven. His father buries them close to the rock wall on the northwest side of the land.


She is stiff and she is white and she is a ghost and she does not talk and she sits in the chair close to the window and watches the sun go to spring to summer and to fall. Perhaps, the white of this winter will tell her to walk into the backyard and find the holes beside the rock wall and below the looted and tired oak tree.


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