We got ready / and showed you our house / The visitors said, ‘You live well.’ / The slum must be inside of you.
- Tomas Tranströmer
‘We just don’t believe in sharing our privacy, is it so hard to understand? One stranger, and only because you’re teaching our children how to make tea, is enough. We cannot condone having another pair of eyes watching us, thinking about us. And it would mean he wouldn’t be contributing to the economy by staying in your house, don’t you see? We worked for this and you haven’t worked hard enough to have what we have, it’s that simple.’
She hands me a plate of beans.
‘This is for your work today, now run along and respect our wishes, please’.
I am over a hundred years old and remain cursed by these mountains upon my shoulders. I gaze on out at the gardens, enough to fit a hundred people in tents in front of their mansion.
‘What’s wrong?’, she asks me.
‘I just saw a rat’, I mumble. He was climbing the nectarine tree dripping with pesticides to keep the insects away. But not him.
‘And he was wearing lipstick’.
Later, one by one they groan and crack open.
The sound of the breaking glass brings me to a climax, lungs hot and scorched by the adrenaline. Throwing tea cups into the road amongst the mansions. Juan the Rat stands upon a branch examining everything. From the corner of my eye I see him smoking a cigar. I turn and he sucks on a fruit stalk.
‘How do I get myself into these situations, Juan?’
He stares at me, bewildered.
‘Soon, it’ll all come down on me. But how triumphant it is to live once thwarted desires at last!’.
Something cracks when action is taken, some eggs are broken open, curses are lifted. A symbol, slight as an extra breath before words.
‘She said to me - one day, if you work enough - you’ll be happy like us and when she said it, I felt my organs crash into each other all at once, a hundred wrecks on fire inside of me. This is happiness? This? I left that day and turned to the sea. I sat and gazed into it until my eyes turned sore from wanting. I wrote until my wrist went limp and drank enough tea to swim in. This is not happiness, this is not happiness I kept muttering to myself. I cannot believe that what I witness is all there is. But then, so, what is?’
I grinned, squinting at Juan. Here, without words.
Drawing - foxship2 (by iiiinga)