Not with a Bang

by Katrina Prow

We are twelve—no thirteen—twenty-four—only three bodies of all crayons, male and female, straight and crooked, tired and with stamina, we are makers, we are art, we are writing everything down. We have hands braided in cloth, hands covered in paint, hands banging on letters, hands banging on keys, hands in each other’s, in pockets, in birds, in twos. We are Virginia red turning blue, we are purple velvet from episcopal thrift downtown, we are only an American street, wash cold, hang dry, we have turned our backs on Jesus, we are praying. We are Texas and North Carolina. We are California and New York. We are Florida, we are Ohio, we are Pennsylvania, we are Mexico. We congregate, we community. We move chairs, we u-shape, we audience. In a living room, we are living; in a library, we eat books. We brought wine and cookies, we made pie, banana yellow, though we couldn’t have it all. We are corking and uncorking, we are beer caps on the floor. We are bourbon, the good stuff and the plastic; we don’t discriminate. We are photographs and peace signs, we are hopeful. The television is a light in a dark room, two men on screen speak in numbers, in shades, and we speculate. We gamble. We are stillness, but still is still a vibrato of energy. We communion, we have faith.

***

Four sleeps earlier, we are pussy-grabbed by a man in club, and because it is a kind of dance, we are mercy. We are drunk, we aren’t driving, so we make a bed, we lie down. We aren’t comfortable, but we are warm for the night. We stretch, we make room, we let him in. We let him in and we let him in and then we let him grab again because the room is small because there is a glass ceiling. He presses and it feels good before it does not; we are open for the business of familiar trauma. He grabs all night, for weeks and months and years, we were born into this kind of touching. He says, I have property, so we give him ours, we give him insides and bottoms and toes on the couch, our shared space. We are good women, we are men experimenting, we have been here before, we are on both sides of the cushion. He whispers, Red, and we say, No, a letter round like a belly, like a howl, like moan, like a poem the letter O floats above us, we have our ears pressed to its sound.

***

Back with the living, it is ten, it is eleven, it is past midnight. We are winning, we are gaining, we are set back. We are sweating, we are swearing, we are stacking. Wine blooms red in glasses, treats disappear with teeth and wide voices, with sighs from closed room to room. We are key update information. We are heads shaking, we are trembling, we are falling, we are all the things of dead plants. We are one more state and then we are failing. We are phones lit in palms on ears like starlight; we are orbs full of hopeless glowing. We are characters flying, we retreat, we are tweeting. We are one hand up and don’t take my picture. We take our shoes off, we are socks sliding and pacing. We the people, we find a hammer, we find relief in shared groaning. We are less as time gums out, we are wearing. We are leaving, we resort to sleep, we can’t keep watching. We are seven, we are six, we are four, we become just one body seething. A smear of light as she reads the return, truth ballooning in the space of her glasses. She is soft all night, almost a ghost in the reflection of the screen. The television is blinking a kind of horror; she is parallel, standing before it, now in it, head down, hand on remote, one button and their voices falling into the box without breathing. When she goes, there is dark in this room that rivals ending.

Katrina Prow lives and writes from California’s central coast. She is a Helen DeVitt Jones Fellow and PhD candidate in creative writing, fiction at Texas Tech University, where she serves as an associate fiction editor for Iron Horse Literary Review. Her writing has recently appeared in Passages North, Nano Fiction, WhiskeyPaper, Juked, CHEAP POP, Literary Orphans, and elsewhere. She was a writer-in-residence at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts during November 2016. You can find her discussing pop culture (frequently) and literature (sometimes) on Twitter @katprow.