By: Lucie Pereira
Am I saying your name right?
No, it’s softer, it’s sharper, it’s a hundred beams of light.
Tangle of tongue and teeth.
Hold it in your mouth like the last bite.
What do you do for work?
Bend at the knees and forget to reply to that email and sip chai in the morning. I
unlock doors. Crawl into unfamiliar caverns.
How long have you lived here?
A woman moves to the city. Add a thousand years in traffic plus a twelve second
walk from her door to the corner store plus a month-to-month lease plus twenty
minutes on the train from here to the ocean. How long has she lived in the city?
Tell me about your family.
Whenever we posed for photos, my brothers and I would squeeze together
so tightly it hurt.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
flirting with satellites.
Hoping for the earth to pull me closer.
Do you want to get out of here?
On his deathbed, my grandfather, a lifelong Catholic, refuses last rites
At midnight my mother and I sit in a Denny’s, drinking cheap rosé and eating breakfast food, en route to Vancouver to retrieve his ashes. At the crematorium my grandmother cries, then catches herself. It’s not really him.
Later, she shakes the urn over the blackberry brambles that border their garden, the farthest area from the house that could still be called home. I think she says a prayer. In a language unfamiliar to her ancestors, to a God they received like a Trojan horse. My mother and I pick raspberries while we watch her, eat them from our fingertips. My father, inside the house, calls Popular Mechanics to cancel his father’s subscription. Under the gaze of Ganesh, a shadow perched on the piano next to my graduation photos.
The unbearable intrusion of a priest in the bedroom. Grief sheltered in the shadows of the garden. This is far too intimate for God to watch.
Lucie Pereira (she/her) is a multiracial writer and educator. She is a programs coordinator at the nonprofit 826 Valencia and was a 2020 Interdisciplinary Writers Lab fellow with the Kearny Street Workshop. Her work can be found, or is forthcoming, in sPARKLE & bLINK and Honey Literary. She lives in San Francisco with her partner and their cat, Kristofferson.