We are in Needle Park and I am cold. I’m always cold, even in October. Maybe this has to do with the way the sun rises over my house, sort of in a sloppy diagonal. The cat and I sit in the backyard to thaw out in the early afternoon. Blonde cockroaches live in the shed and I think about them all the time. They are always there, whether you open the door or not.
My friends are dying. They are dropping like flies. One overdosed, another rode a bicycle down a dark highway in Arizona until a drunk driver found him. Yet another stopped answering their phone until I figured they were a goner, too.
We are in Needle Park, which is disguised as a farmer’s market on Saturdays. You walk slowly with money in your wallet. A vendor shivers in the shade and watches as you slide your thumb across the glaze of her pottery. Anything you want, you get: etched coffee cups, microgreens, pork sausage, pork belly, mushrooms that feel like meat in your mouth. You buy decorative pumpkins, and bigger squash for eating. You get us hot, creamy coffees with sugar; an organic cabbage, a sage stick with tiny purple flowers woven inside.
There was too much fentanyl in a single pill. In Oregon, it turns out, there are too many drugs in the drugs.
There was not enough moonlight on U.S. 70 outside Safford. But everyone said never to ride on that highway,duh, outside of Safford.
Disconnection can feel a lot like death.
Later you almost suffocate me but maybe that was a mistake? You suck the life out of me, but didn’t I ask for that? In the bathroom mirror in the morning: two red marks around my neck. My eyes look haunted. Large pupils can indicate love or death.
This is not a fancy town and as we walk away from Needle Park it looks more and more like Needle Park. If nothing is planted, junk trees and cactus grow, and a sharp kind of grass made entirely of burrs. This is where we stand, looking at each other, before you leave in your Prius with all of your things. I’m holding the cabbage. In the middle is an edible heart. I’m pulling you closer to kiss me. I’m inside you and inside you until you disappear.
Becca Yenser is author of Bang the Dream (Selcouth Station Press, 2021), The Grief Lottery (forthcoming, ELJ Editions, 2022) and A Constellation of Wounds (forthcoming, Bone and Ink Press, 2022). Their semi-autobiographical novella, The Ms. Pac Man Chronicles, won the Daily Drunk Mag’s 2021 novella chapbook contest. Recent fiction, poetry, and nonfiction appear in Hobart, Bending Genres, Tiny Molecules, Heavy Feather Review, Susan, Ink Node, Fanzine, Superfroot Magazine, and X-Ray Literary Journal. Yenser was born in Iowa, raised in Oregon, and currently resides in New Mexico.