In the rusted pan, stew simmers like skin. Mami stirs an array of meats and rooted
vegetables with a wooden spoon—circular, slow motion. “You are not depressed, just
confused,” she, or maybe myself, says. Like a match to the mouth.
Outside, a man crushes the butt of his cigarette beneath his feet. His teeth, milk-grey and
fractured, clip every word that rolls out his mouth. Beer coats the sparse hairs on his
upper lip. He lifts his fingers in mimicry of a handgun. “Pew, pew,” he says.
At night, I make enough room for the soft memory of a boy cradling a joint between his
lips. My hands, like his mouth, fumble for a body that isn’t there. You know, like
scrambling for a breath that can’t pave its way out of your throat. It is familiar, whole.
My therapist once told me I think too much about the future. You know, how I need to
remain present and shit. I tell her I have weaponized my own pain. She asks why. I say to
make myself beautiful again.
Brittany Adames is a Dominican-American writer. Her work has been previously published in CALAMITY Magazine, Bombus Press, Rumble Fish Quarterly, TRACK//FOUR, and Rust+Moth, among others. She currently serves as the poetry editor for Ascend Magazine. She has been regionally and nationally recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards and was a Pushcart Prize nominee.