Anorexic, In a Mexican Restaurant

When the skeletal boy drifts in, everything’s ruined. I can’t eat as planned. I have to look; he’s asked for that. I recognize him: joyless as a crow. He waits for food like he wants it. Squeezes lemon in his iced water. Wears jewelry – a bracelet today – because wrists, skin over joints, look finer with silver. I’m betting now; he’ll eat half a taco, sit over the meal and hope his phone will ring. Someone, please, steal his occasion to be sated. By the time his order is up, my food is cold.

**

At the Mexican fast-food stand one block from home, I was nine and in line three times a week for a bean and cheese burrito. It was 1975, the year we moved away from my father. Once, at a table behind us, I listened to a man and boy talk. I heard the older one: you know, I shot a guy once. Was he bragging? Was he confessing? I wanted to ask did you kill him? Wanted to say – even then – why are you telling a kid this? When we left, one of the man’s eyes met mine and the other reeled, loose. The place wasn’t the same; I was afraid we’d see him and that he’d shoot someone else. It was hard to swallow while thinking that.

**

At the sea, I vanished into a hole dug – deep – to make me even with the ground: hips and breasts identical to sand-swells. I recognized the spice, sandy clove of the ice plant and its purple woven threads, spread in midday heat. Later, at a Mexican restaurant, I ordered an adult’s meal: I’ll have everything. The man across the table didn’t care it was a lie. Later, I covered my face from him. Drop your hands, he said, and I did. When he said, now, kiss my neck, I opened my mouth to that: the faintest version of take me. That kind of consumption can be plenty. Like licking a plate clean.

**

The boy of bones never builds a house. He lives within skin, a breed of possibility. Between new and finishing, he’s not yet, more please, a nascent nothing.

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