LIFE IN JUNE (or what we make of it)
watercolor on paper
I fall asleep and wake in a prison of heat. Heavy as lead, it presses its body against the windows. I get second degree burns on my fingertips when I reach for the curtains trying to see the birds screaming their internal horror from angry trees in the backyard.
For days, I give up showering and lie listless on the bed in pools of my own sweat. It runs in streams from my forehead, my neck, every crack and crevasse. Even my knees sweat. I mop my head and chest with the hem of my shirt. On the way to the kitchen, I slip and fall in streams of my body’s own enraged discharge. This is life in June, or what we make of it, in the desert.
I spend most my Sunday watching gangsters blow each other’s heads off or shoot bullets straight through their hearts on the bedroom TV. Either way, it looks like relief. That blood seeping from a hollowed-out eye socket becomes an exit door blasted right through this suffocating heat wall. This 109 degree wall. This wall that builds a degree a day until by the end of the week, it will become unlivable. A kind of slow execution, a day-by-day boiling, the kind of heat that makes your skin peel from the bones when you turnover in your sleep. If you sleep.
By the time I step outside today, the sun is nearly setting. I open the front door, and the heat slams me with a full body blow. I stumble backwards and gasp for air, but there is no air to be got because fires are burning across four states. All that carnage – the smoke, the burning trees, the houses, the animals that couldn’t run fast enough – has settled in Tucson in the form of a long low hanging cloud, hovering in unnatural colors that makes me question if these natural disasters really are natural.
But it is beautiful. This bizarre gift of heat and smoke. Shimmering, glittering, graying at the edges. Growing and spreading. Hanging above houses, telephone wires and birdless trees.
The setting sun can’t make up its mind. I knows it’s sherbet, but is it orange or rainbow? The giant burning ball has already set but still can’t make up its mind. My daughter and I decide for it. We stick with rainbow. Except for the green because green is lime and we don’t like lime sherbet. We leave the green to the trees even though at this moment they are black.
I stand at the kitchen sink drinking my third glass of water in as many minutes. A lizard does push-ups on the cement block wall outside the window. As if he is in jail and that 18 inch cement rectangle is his yard. He works it for every breath he can grab.
I look up to the twilight sky and catch a falling star too big to be a star. I squeal “Did you see that?” to my daughter. And follow it with, “Quick! Make a wish!”
She asks if she didn’t actually see the star if her wish counts.
I say of course it does. Tell her and besides it was a comet and the rules for comets are different. I assure her that she can make a wish through my eyes because we are connected. We breathe the same air, bleed the same blood. She believes me and I do too.
We both make wishes. I wish that the lizard will make it til morning and that my daughter will just make it. I question if that is actually two wishes but then tell myself “Fuck it. It’s one ‘make it’ wish.”
But now my Italian superstitious genes are getting the best of me, and I fear I cursed both us and the lizard by sharing my wish.
I better stop writing and go perform a hex-breaking spell. Because I can do it. And my spells are powerfully strong. They work. Because I am a witch, and I will corral my witch power to turn the stars inside out and make lizards fly.