I’m from Ifeanyi’s Brain
The suburbs, though
It’s a desert town south of the city
You, with your baby bottom skin, wouldn’t last one afternoon beneath our sun
In the distance, the shape of mountains bleeds through the endless heat mirage
When a local says mirage, he means possibility
We only ever see the fuzzed-out, bleary-eyed version of things
A hawk, circling like a silent lullaby, could be anything
In my town, earthquakes explode like bullets every so often
They write calligraphy across the ground that disappears when the sun sets
All the world’s castoffs seem to end up in this town
Like the aborted choruses of love songs, that we chant like prayers
Like the faces of people we only met by chance
When a local says mirage, he means chance
Last June, a man moved into Ifeanyi’s Brain
We didn’t sleep once that summer
Night stopped following day
We walked around like caffeine ghosts
Eyes wide, hyper focused, every limb on high alert
The earthquakes came every day that summer
We woke up to them the way you wake up to birds singing
The air sounded a pestle grinding a mortar as they ricocheted across the desert
The rain didn’t fall
Lawns grew yellow like burnt corn, the sky stayed cloudless
Nothing grew in the drought so we did not eat
We spent our days pacing past his house in awe, the ground kissing our feet with cracked lips
We’d never been hungry like this
After one week, the man shoved his For Sale sign back into his front sand like a stake
“Why don’t you crazies get out of the fucking wilderness?” he screamed
And drove off into the hungover sun
We asked, “Any mirage you’d come back?”
That fall, our town turned 22
We heard love songs get stuck in the air again, memorized them
Then tied them to origami birds and forgot
There were fewer tourists to entertain
But always, the chance faces floating by in dust clouds
We said good morning to them
Without expecting a reply
We danced along earthquakes
Gathered desert flowers for the kitchen table
We spent more time alone
We gathered one night to watch a mirage evaporate into the horizon
Knowing that it never really meant anything
No one’s really into deserts anymore, but
I like my town
I’m planning to move back home someday