On the Ecstasy of Saints
“Not to worry,” I told Dana. I was so busy. Takes time to eat the debris
from the storm. The job is to put all that pain somewhere. Somebody has to.
Hours picking sparkplugs from the muck, grinding them down on my Teeth.
My Teeth! Oh god, my Teeth! How sharp they were. I can’t show you.
Gone now. Anymore, I don’t. Tell everyone about what it was like. Macerate the
entire Gulf. You swallow sand and shrimp shell, then come talk to me about prayer
about teeth and the tricky way your eyes want to stay in their sockets like bits of chicken
bone in the throat. Like Paul and those shiny fishy scales. Instead, I slept
with centipedes, let warm lighter fluid come chortling from my mouth. This must have been
what St. Theresa was raving about! Fits of ecstasy! A goddamn parade on Tuesday!
When I cranked up the old truck I had to use a screwdriver. Had to ask for my eyes. Had to
ransack the junk drawer. “It takes time,” she said, hand running up a thigh; the suggestion
was to rebuild a spider’s web using only found objects and black mold. Inside of their
trailers, my parents began praying like clocks. Only certain types of fear can be turned into art,
so I lit the acetylene torch, gathered and gathered legs and eyes that were not mine, at least
not given to me. Everyone sang hymns and clapped their hands. Mom took her keys
and left. When I was done fucking the Devil down on Old Fort Bayou Road, I tried to give
back what I had taken, what had been taken from me. But it was too strange a necklace
to wear, and Dana quit returning my calls. She claimed she needed hands to hold her baby. She said
teeth were not jewelry. She said she said Daddy stayed and wears a coyote skull and swears
road flares live under his eyelids. There is a certain wind that only blows backwards from his
house to push more water in. I know about the black flies swarming the deck and the dying bait
fish in oil. I know his altar of old railroad ties and the blisters they promise. Promise me blisters
and small black breezes that kick up all of the every I can no longer pronounce. I dare you.
Sarah Howze studies and teaches at Texas State University. She is a Gulf Coast native and New Orleans sweetheart who prefers the term, “Makin’ groceries,” over “Going to the supermarket.” She now resides in Texas Hill Country with her favorite people and animals. She is forthcoming or recently published in Anamesa and Badlands.