by Z.H. Gill
Mild and cool’s enough for me. I didn’t know you from across the room. Each night my mother listened to whalesong on 8-track tape. The day shakes. The evening ticks. Sitting in pews in churches I don’t belong to. Each night my mother read aloud from whatever it was she was reading at the time: Danielle Steele, Michael Crichton, Sir Walter Scott, Suttree by Cormac McCarthy, Kamala Das, Jane Smiley. Held the receiver up so you could hear. My mother’s voice you said was impish. I loved you both the same. (Not in form, but in strength.) At parties I’d glide in alone. There were women in the bathroom—talking, maybe crying, I don’t know—but I could hear them, I felt bad about it. My mother showed me how to send flowers through the computer. My father slipped away. My brother met me at the parties. He said to me: Z, you don’t know how to drink a drink, but disappeared before he would explain. (He found a bathroom, I’m certain of it.) You met him once; he made you laugh, before offending you. We used to swim in the ravine—the locals knew to stay away instinctively. We read in diners. The evening sky had forsaken us. My mother wrote but half her letters were lost. I never sang in the shower. We left our friends without saying good-bye. (Your friends, you would have said.) I drew the Tower, I drew the Two of Swords. The day quit while it was ahead, and the evening simply stopped. You drew the Hanging Man, you drew the Four of Wands. I stopped looking out the window. You give up half yourself, my mother said to me, ominously but not humorlessly. Look at your brother, she said, He’s just too much of one thing. I sat in church sucking on activated charcoal. Prolonged eye-contact during the sermon. For better or worse, you gave me my dogmas. I loved you both the same. I’ll be joining you soon. Soon.
Z.H. Gill works in the motion pictures. His writings have appeared in trampset, HAD, and Triangle House. Find them, and more, at linktr.ee/zhgill and on Twitter @blckpllplsrbch.