If I ever meet a man named Manuelo from Paris, he better watch his fucking head.
I looked through a very expensive telescope in a grocery store parking lot tonight, and saw what’s out there.
And it’s impressive!
I mean in space.
I saw the craters in the moon in blinding brilliance—bone white, ripping in light and I don’t know what. But rippling and bone white right into the craters was mostly enough.
I saw Saturn.
This is not a metaphor. This is not about Manuelo and whatever he is doing over there with Catherine in the boot of the boot. Can you imagine what he is doing with her? I don’t want to imagine what he is doing with her, but I imagine him doing everything a man can do with her.
I tried to give the man anything. Anything. Food, bottles of wine, a fish dinner, my home to stay in. He wanted nothing.
I want to tell you about the man. I mean to tell you what is out there around us in space. I want to tell you about her.
Catherine. Her name is like space and what there is unto itself that I saw out there. Last time I told it I showed her all wrong—in the wrong light. Last time, she came back and we went to Puerto Rico. We saw wild horses. We swam in the dark before the moon rose to swim and the water lit up wherever we swam and made glowing dots green on our skins in the dark. Her dark hair and pale skin and a vein dark across her unknown heart.
I was held up at gunpoint by a man in Puerto Rico and the man who held me up had tears in his eyes. I made him give me a cigarette after I gave him all of my money which was not much money. I made him light my cigarette. That sonofabitch was so Christian. Crying for robbing me in the dark. Catherine was back in the room, naked under the sheets.
She won’t come back this time.
Now I live in a house full of a family’s things. There are pictures of boys with big ears on one wall. This wall has a cutout of Texas made from yellow wood, with shelves. On a clothespin glued into a tin of an old heat lamp is a sign made many years ago. It says, Mother my darling Mother my dear…I love you…I love you…each day of the year. There is a candle in a drawer, shaped as an 8. There is a bottle of Norrel perfume in the bathroom and photos of people who came from Mother my darling, Mother my dear, and I am not from this family. I rent this home. The Mother my darling is dead as can be.
Catherine is hard and keeps herself to herself and everyone who sees her sees she is hard but there is something else to Catherine. She has a child inside her—a girl who may have written the sign from the shelf on the wall. She hasn’t lost that. Her hardness has kept it alive, maybe. Manuelo must see her. I wanted to make her pregnant. I once or twice came inside her to hope we might make life without consent—as the world would not do for us because she did not want for it to.
There was and is a church in the town where I grew up and at the front is a mural in gold squares and blues and reds and greens and it is Jesus with a pierced side bleeding and the blood turns to fire and fire into wine into a chalice and from the chalice doves appear and fly upwards in rippling white. My parents married in the church one day in the sun. I was baptized in the church and I loved the church and later I became afraid of the church and loved the church as well.
Sometimes I will get to thinking of her over there with Manuelo and Italy and how it’s every girl’s dream to go to Paris and fall in love and then I get in my little rig and drive to Walmart in town and walk around at two a.m. and look at anyone. Look at all those people. I have seen an odd armadillo in the grass tottering on little legs and I think of all the men who ever loved and lost and went out to old space to live with themselves.
Then something on the radio plays as I drive over the stumpenly remains of a freshskin skunk torso twisted in the roadway stinking through the boat of my car’s undercarriage and I wonder if there are skunks in Paris or old Italy?
She’s over there in Paris with Manuelo. You have got to love the thing that will not cease itself or be killed or to let itself die. I guess that’s not us. Once it’s gone, how can you love it? It is something else you are loving then. Mother my darling…Mother my dear…I love you…I love you.
I picture them in Paris. I have never been there, but I imagine the streets are prettier than here.
In a desk in this home I rent there is a box of Mirado quality writing pencils—the best! There is a small clear sharpening box taped to the box of pencils. Somebody taped that there. Let me tell you, they are the best!
At the grocery store, there was a man with a very nice telescope. He was waiting for fools like me who wanted to look out into space. He moved the position of the telescope and found the moon. The moon I looked into the scope.
I saw my sister being born. I watched a man in uniform with a scalpel and blood dripped into a silver bowl and I watched my mother scream.
Saturn was so far away, even through the telescope, it looked like a little trick on a screen.
Manuelo isn’t half the crazy I am, I’ll tell you.
Why do you suppose he did it? Why are we so interested in space? Whose stars are those you see at night? Who’s got his hands on Catherine’s legs right now? Her skin lit up green in a dark moonless bay? The man with the telescope, his eyes were screwed up like he hadn’t spent much time looking at things down here. What do you think makes a man do a thing like that?