I have pulled a lot of big stones out of the river and am stacking them. There are four stacks as tall as me and I am building the fifth, choosing each next slab for the way and where it dips in the middle or does not. Each slides, humming and wet, into place as though by some other vivid design. I stuff handfuls of red mud and twigs into the cracks between, patting smooth the meeting spots and filling up the holes.
When the fifth stack is even on top with the others I walk around the little wall and a few yards up the hill to stand with my back to the sun. The land where I am building this house is flat enough. There are no rocks or roots. There were no other houses on the road here. Just sandy foothills rolling out and out and out.
The hill where I am standing and building this house flattens out on the side just enough to block out three small rooms all in a row with rocks the size of fists and human heads which spell the future.
Here the sun is always shining. No rumbles in the earth. There is the river at the foot of this long hill and out to the east I can just see the painful shining sliver of the sea. When I don’t breathe I hear it thundering.
This is no rotting carnivore jungle.
Things I tell myself in the dark.
I run down the hill and into the wall with a limp sort of anger but I have spent days stacking these few stones and they hold. They are stronger than me who sits down in the grass with bruised knees. The thing made has its own life and could not speak for me in court.
Can I live on this grassy foundation, weeds growing up into my life while I am on the other side of the room on my bruised knees with medical scissors. Search and search for order and neatly trimmed floors.
I wanted a mother who died on impact instead of one with just no love for me; living motherless means I shouldn’t have to hear forever your always words always voice like nothing even happened and I’m still alive. I abandoned my own citizenry for no country instead. Somewhere in Georgia my umbilical cord is frozen, I’m waiting to be found and claimed by the things I burned.
When I lay on my stomach I can see the gaps between the earth and the wall. More frantic stuffing, patting smooth. I want to love the land under my fingernails. I want to tear down the wall. From here the sun is hidden and the sky is clouding up.
If after forever I forgot you, I don’t think that you could find me. Only how much I want you, like a beacon, brings you here.
When I finish building this house for myself which is not for myself I do not feel home here. Wildflowers grow in the square on the ground where the sun comes in through the hole I left and then they die. They wither in the world half-lit.
Maybe you’re not coming and I’ll have to lie in this bed that I have made, of straw, close to the ground.
I was not enough in love with you in gray between-buildings light; now I can see the sea, my chest is surgically flayed to make a space for you but you’re not coming.
My grass is twitching, anemic, forward. I can boil the salty tea that is killing me. My mashed mouth like blackberry jam is stinging. My bones are sodden in stone walls, stone tongue curving smoothly in the silt basin of my mouth, keeping my organs cold. Living storage for another life.
I am not making a history, the same or separate from yours. Sometimes I walk down to the river which is fleeing always towards its mouth and look back up to the little house I stacked and patted firm. My fingers are worn smooth down the pads from lifting stones. I am burying little things in sand and hoping for life. I am impotent. What I make seems green and artificial.
I lined up tools in the grass, grimy and glinting abilities that are not mine.
I pulled boards from your house and my mother’s and the rambling square with big windows where we used to live and the whorehouse across the street. (You brought home a rock for a ride once, confused, and I threw it out into the back yard with the broken bottles and dog shit and drum skin waiting to be sludged slowly away in the next flood. We’ll sit on the soft, tilting sideways back porch in beach chairs watching kids wade knee deep.)
I cut the windows, whole, out of your sister’s house which just stood empty when she died.
I am collecting other people’s pieces. (I said I didn’t love you, I just need things that you’ve touched to make me whole.)
Okay, you wanted a fire, you wanted a roof over your head (I would sleep in the rain, it’s an even trade).
You lined up things you wanted in a row on the counter and I pulled the counter out, bare hands, and took it with me. I left it in the yard until it buckled, swollen with rain.
These boards I took are different colors and some are rotting through. I lay the floor with the weakest ones. I want to be close to the Earth.
You brought more tea, no hammers. I am begging nails into place, pulling them out with my fingernails. I could use the help of a hammer or your strong, smooth bones.
No floods here, not your cigarette butts, just a cobbled together thing.