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Camille Brougher

At Night

Itís hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.
--Sally Kempton

These are the things that keep her. Her husband is going blind. Her brother is the favorite. Her cat may be possessed. With an evil spirit. You look in its eyes. Her daughter is growing breasts. Her mother hates her husband. Says his eyes are creepy. Her Reiki Master laid hands on her head. He scrambled her mind. Her mother hates her poverty. Her mother had a breakdown. Her brother has grown up better than she has. He drinks and beats his wife. Her Reiki friends spun energies on her keys. They spun her necklaces. They spun her magazines. They went inside her house while she was at the movies. And they are asking every question. What she did. Where was she. To test her. And her chakras. Her father died when she was sixteen. Her first son should be an artist. Her second son steals from the mall. They donít have a basketball hoop. Her husband has one leg. Her husband drinks too much. The witches tapped her phone. The witches put her in a trance for two days. She knows who it is. Theyíre coming in. Through the portals. Her husband doesnít get it. Her husband works in Bullhead. Her husband makes no money. She needs to crush the serpent. She needs to be a CPA. Her business is accounting. She hates accountants. She wants to be a counselor. She needs to watch Shine. She needs the color black between her legs. Black holds her feet to the ground. Witches see through the eyes of her cat. Her mother hates her house. Her mother hates her life. She canít keep it clean. She is caught inside a riddle. Her Reiki Master put symbols inside her head. She canít get them out. He put a blue moon in her eyes. He laid hands on her head. Theyíre homing in on her. They cast the rune. What will you do if they come. Whatever it takes. Okay.

Her brother raped her mother. Her cousin took his life. She needs to string beads. She needs to create patterns. They manipulated the rune. She sees the pretty kitties. Who is the head of the center. She needs to know. She needs to make kitty necklaces. She has to use yellow and orange and red. She will call them and they will tell her what colors to wear. They can get her out of the riddle. She needs a green dragon to wear on her head. Give her the bike helmet. Because itís a green dragon. She has to put on this red robe. She has to put those black skates between her knees. She needs lots of Nano Babies. For protection. Lots of Nano Babies. She feels their vibrations. They help her push against the energy. The shaking inside her stomach. She needs the pretty kitties. She needs a carrot. She needs to know what colors. She doesnít feel safe. She needs the art of Tsing-i. Her insides vibrate. And wonít stop. Because of blue. Turn it off. Blue makes her vibrations too fast. She hears the buzz. Turn it off. She hears the snake. In her ears. Witches are behind the rattle. They do it to spin her energies. She needs a carrot right now. She doesnít need to eat. Her daughter is trying to run away. Take off her daughterís jacket so she canít leave. She has to hold the carrot in both hands. She has to walk around so they canít locate her. She has to break the carrot in two pieces. One for each hand. She sees the countenance on her palm. Who is the heart of the center. You donít know how important silver is to her. Because you are a little wobbly. Silver is for her to know. And you to find out. She knows who it is. She knows the soup is enchanted. She has to find the portals. She has to pour soup on her breast. The portals are open on the floor. Theyíre open. Her friends will tell you. She needs you to meet them. They see you through her eyes. Sheíll introduce you. She needs you to talk to them. And youíll see. They will call on the phone right now so you will believe her. Believe her. Sheís holding the city. Sheís keeping it safe. She canít shut her eyes. Whose heart does she hold in her hands. God holds your heart in his hands. Okay, good.

They put her in a trance. She couldnít stop them. She knows that Jupiter and Mars are lining up. She needs to shake her wrists. The Blessing Way. Can he teach her to tie tea. Okay. Will he teach her to bundle the tea. Okay. Can you ask him. Okay. They think they have her. But theyíre trapped in a box. The energy catches in the corners of the square. They just think. They have her. She needs a five-sided box. She knows who it is. Theyíre trapped in the ritual. Will he teach her to tie tea. Okay. Who is the center. She has to talk to him. Please tell her. Okay. She doesnít feel safe. They canít make her. Her chest hurts. She wonít go that way. Who is the heart. They canít make her. Put black on the portals. Please. Close the portals. She needs you to.

 

3

 

It feels like everything is back to normal. How it used to be. How itís going to be better. He makes you potato and spinach breakfasts. You drink coffee around the table and talk about the money, where it comes from, where it goes. And how he quit his job to stay close to home. To be there just in case. To dress and feed the kids and get them back in school.

And you watch movies on TV. Buy a fifty-pound box of navel oranges. Sew mountains onto cloth. Check the mail. You buy the cat a red collar. And demons no longer yellow her eyes. You pass the Circle K on Fourth Street, turn left to your office. Straighten the taxes, adjust the books. Buy birthday presents for your first son. A Baskin-Robbins cake. You cook soups. Black bean. Cheddar potato. Beef stew. And eat out of blue flowered bowls. Your sons set the table. Napkins, cups, and spoons. Your mother-in-law bakes bread.

But the dishes collect flies. And the toilet seat unhinges, is ringed with pubic hairs. Your second son walks mud across the tile. The fresh broccoli turns liquid, seeps out the fridge. The toilet paper is gone. The paper towels are gone. The freezer is empty. The ice cubes evaporate. Strange cars park on your street. Your second son rolls dead grass into the carpet. You forget what comes next. Itís easier to pace than to sleep. Your mother might call. Greasy pants crumple on the floor. The cat box overflows and litter crunches under your slippers. Your nightgown is stained with coffee. The folded clean T-shirts and boxers drop on the living room carpet. And thicknesses of mud and jeans and grassy sweaters layer on chili-specked flannels. Layer on teal satin underwear. And spread and build and weigh until the floor sinks away. For a moment a scattered crust of laundry floats apart like North Atlantic ice. Broken pieces that sink and swell above the foundation. And you feel as if you can walk across on solid ground.

 

3

 

When you roll into a ball sometimes I wish I could take you up close with my arms holding tight around your arms tucked inside like a child, and youíd be safe right there. And we could breathe as if in sleep. And the sky would ease open and warm olive oil would pour from it into your head and smooth the paths into place. We would sit there coated greasy for a while. We would sleep contented. And then during the night your arms and legs and mind would stretch open on the earth, rest on the soil and smooth river rocks and your fingers would curl loosely around space.

Instead we washed dishes at my house like we used to when I was a lousy housekeeper. We folded my laundry and we washed big pots and frying pans and you put away the mustard or something in the refrigerator, and I told you what you already know, that I still collect rotten zucchinis if you look too close so donít. And then you saw something you knew was real. You found my bad habits. And the fermented pea soup in my crockpot. And you opened the lid and the smell and scraped the mold and slime and peas into the trash and tied it up. And we passed the crockpot through soapy bleach water and dug for the dishrag, and rinsed and dried and straightened up my faults.

And I keep telling you what you already know. That when you talk I know your voice. And your textures and your grammar and your laughs and where you put them when you speak. And I do. I know your feet and your chin, the way you walk and your movements. Your brown eyes, what they look like when they know they know something. Your hands and the tiny bones of your fingers.

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