Because I am thin and mud-colored, my brothers spend the afternoon trying to kill me.
They use pellet guns, then archer’s arrows. They chase me through the craggy landscape that butts up to our trailer park.
They shout slurs—Redskin, Squaw-lover, Geronimo-homo.
My blood is different, my father not their father, which is why they hate me.
I chant. I dance as I run. I pray for the wind to pluck me from this rotten patch of earth and drop me somewhere safe and clean.
But the wind is angry at someone and does not hear.
So I sprint and sprint. I run over hills and boulders, through thick glades, across a swamp.
By the next day, I’m in another town. I go to the bus depot. Everyone there looks starving and lonely, like tattered shadows.
Except for a lady with the apple-print dress.
She sits posture-perfect on a bench, wearing a wide-brimmed Easter hat.
And she’s grinning.
Her nose twitches, catching the foul odor of me, but she only asks, “Where you headed?”
“Then why’re you here? I hardly have but two dollars, if you’re thinking about robbing a blind lady.”
Then I see it, her shiny sea glass eyes.
“If you only got two dollars, how you gonna get a ticket?” I say.
“Ah, isn’t that the question?”
Blind and maybe nuts, I think.
I take a closer look. She’s just plump, harmless and happy, maybe someone’s grandmother, so I turn brave, admitting this is the farthest I’ve ever been from home.
“Come sit,” she says, patting the seat next to her. “I won’t bite.”
She takes my hand, fingering. “I used to be a palm reader,” she says, her star-struck eyes bouncing. “Oh, child, you’re going to have a good long life. You’re going to go places.”
“To the great cities. Paris. Rome. Athens. The Big Apple!”
For hours, she tells me about the different locales, how mopeds will almost run you down in Milan, but the pastries and pasta make up for it. She describes New York’s sky scrapers, cathedrals, the sound of taxi horns blasting, the smell of hotdogs and pretzels rippling off street vendor carts, paintings inside the MoMA, sculpture at another museum. She details Seattle’s Space Needle then says about the city, “Did you know they have an espresso bar on every block, sometimes two?”
We go to Chicago and Melbourne. We visit Mexico City, Cairo and Quebec.
“Were you in all these places before, you know, becoming blind?”
“Honey, I was born sightless.”
“The cities--they talk to you.”
“That’s what you’ve got to find out. Just get there somehow. You’ll see.”
When she excuses herself to use the restroom, I know she won’t be returning.
I watch a bus pull up to the curb outside. There’s a long, skinny dog painted on the side of it. He’s in mid-gallop, on his way somewhere important. It looks like nothing’s going to stop him.
published 18 May 2012