Exercise #3


Burned and mutilated bodies hung over the bridge, this is the world my mother lives in. Born in 1947, decade of gas and ovens, she spent most of her life cooking rice and chicken. My father chewed and spoke. Had her swap places at the dinner table after they moved houses, so her back was to the window.

"I don't want a stray bullet hitting me when I'm eating."


Over the Euphrates, meaning "well" and "flow" or "to move forward", men strung up the four Blackwater employees. The Prophet Muhammed said that it will come to pass the the river will dry up to unveil a mountain of gold, for which people will fight. Ninety-nine out of one hundred will die, and every man among them will say:

"Perhaps I may be the only one to remain alive."


Through the empty living room in the formerly pink house on Drohan Avenue, my mother moves in her nightgown to kitchen. She takes a sip of soda. I know her habits. I came from her body. It is her face I half see in the mirror, pushing up from underneath mine. The stray bullet didn't come, but the closet in the bathroom is full of anti-aging creams and ways to smooth wrinkles away. She wakes at 4AM every morning to exercise. General Hospital taped from the morning before. Lips moving, voices mute.

I can't connect the dots. It is as if the answer to every grieving mother's question were marked out by the position of the stars in the night sky. If only someone could read it for her. 5f the President could take out his pen and draw the bold lines that say something to put out the fire that threatens to turn the heart to ash. Century of a mound of shoes, of wires on the sons' genitals, of Blackwater's counter-suit against the mothers of lost children. They did not have to tell them anything. My mother was born in the middle of the 20th century, before the bullets came for JFK and MLK, on the south shore of Long Island. She decided she could not live in the world if she was going to be fat. She resolved not to eat. Her brother says he saw her cooking cheese on a fork over the gas oven, when she thought no one was looking. Behind the creams are the laxatives. Because hunger is inevitable, and no matter what the prophets say we will never be like the angels, who do not shit or swear or worry themselves thin to the bone, who do not have to hold out at the edge of starvation.

Who do not have children.

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