There is always one bossy ass bird. He digs himself a naked hole in the dense mockorange, puffs out his chest and sings at 11. The sparrows who live there too roll their eyes and go on about collecting tufts of red dog hair from between the fence slats to make their nests luxurious— and soundproof.
The Star is the center. All Things revolve around it—the Room, dimly lit—the flashing Optics—gilded mirrors that Turn on time—doors pulling Themselves open and closed— Gears, wheels, sprockets, Springs—gods, humanity— All dizzy things.
All gone to oranges now once flamed with pink on spring green tendrils that climbed our matching dresses to touch the shocking white of our lacy bib collars accented at the throat with plum satin bows. My sister smiles a broad white that reflects my broken child’s hair. I smile with my teeth out a touch. Light bounces from the lenses of my half-transitioned Coke bottles, near permanently dim, to one of my sister’s neatly arranged auburn Botticelli curls—one twist of many about her I envy.
We each have one hand on a taxidermy-stiff, red eyed plush bunny the photographer shoved between us to encourage something shared and quiet. The closest he got us to sisterhood that day was leaned-away touching at the shoulder— the furthest torso point from our hearts.
All gone to adulthood now and Valentine’s Day vacuum cleaners received with kisses like hand cut doilies, my sister and I have become pre-midlife reawakened to something like crystal-sucking New Agers without the liberalism, too much nature stuff, or any urgent concerns about the patriarchy.
I step off the train on a wet, sky-spitting Saturday night to celebrate my sister’s 29th-again birthday. There is streaked silver in the puddles through which the train runs, upside down, loping on to LA. My sister wears a demure sweater as accent to a royal purple petticoat that flounces in the whoosh of the train. I wear an oversized silver lotus petal with seven fake stones masking a magnifying glass behind. We hug.
Is he the black dog in the night when it’s noon and all the lights are on, or is he the star around which noon and all the light revolves. To know him with bare eyes is blindness. We see him once, poorly, and never anything again but the flash burned into our corneas— the red, the lightening purple, the terrible white. The half memory our only light. And he would still not be black dog in the night, nor black dog at noon. He would still be the light itself and we irreversible, starless, dying.