After “Portraits of Beasts: Alebrije” by Ángel García
I learn first to say yes. You. Driving stick down the mountain. Your fingertips purpling the fat of my left thigh as you park. I make little noises, soft and guttural like a piglet. You zip up. Tell me I’m bleeding. I look at myself in the rearview. Slick my front teeth with my tongue. Bare them in the darkness. Growl. I let you think this was your idea.
Then this: I clench the thick roll of belly heaving beneath my Pendleton. I am no better than any animal. Including you. The mama spider on my ceiling laughs at me. Spits on me. I vomit my breakfast into the pink fur rug. Detach my skeleton from the mattress and start the shower. The cat left a mouse, decapitated, in the tub last night. The water washes it’s fur clean of blood. I lay down beside it.
Here, take it: this apology. This grave. This tribute. This thing. Homegrown. Loved, sometimes. Beaten and starved. Suck the flavor out of me. Tough piece of meat. Burnt. Cooked to death. Chew me. Swallow me. Digest.Truthfully, I can hardly remember the taste of myself. I can hardly remember the sound of your breath, wet like a river stone.
Emily Clarke is a Cahuilla Native American writer, activist, photographer, Zine artist, and Traditional Bird Dancer. Emily graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy in May of 2018 with a certificate in Creative Writing and is now continuing her study of writing at University of California, Riverside. Emily’s work has been featured in News From Native California, Four Winds Literary Journal, and Hoot Review. She has been a featured reader at events such as Indigenous Now, And The Earth Was Shaken, and UCLA’s Environmentalists of Color Climate Justice Forum. Currently, Emily is writing poetry exploring modern Cahuilla identity, feminism, and human intimacy.