Cat INGRID Leeches

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Premonitions of a Valley Girl

My daughter is missing a uvula.

Her cat speaks for her when she places her fingers lightly on the nape of his neck with a

somewhat threatening flourish. His mouth opens on cue:

it sounds like the groaning of an ancient house

I open the ground with a shovel

trying to dig up what I imagined

the last tenants left behind, buried,

too heavy to take with them.

With a simple heave, the shovel’s tip already imbedding in the flesh,

the whole top comes loose?

As if the topsoil was dead skin on my foot that I could peel back and reveal what was

underneath,

but it’s still dead down there, not new and baby pink like I thought?

It goes thousands of miles deep but  all    still           dead

I don’t have a daughter?

Many of my friends have daughters? Their lives crisscrossing in different directions from mine.

Some of them even have dead daughters?

My mother and me would take trips to the cemetery, bring a picnic basket

or more often a six pack of Sprite

an excuse for ritual.

Here are the laws of our rituals:

DO NOT STEP where a dead body could potentially be. For safe measure assume dead bodies

occupy a space that is at least three-and-a-half feet wide and seven feet in length starting at the

tomb stone. (Back then I thought only tall men are buried, but I have never unthought this

thought?)

DO NOT THINK dirty thoughts while looking at the headstone, or even at the ground, or even

while thinking of the dead and what their life must have been like, and wondering if their wife

is still alive (and if she got remarried to their twin brother and how often do such things

happen?) It invites the dead into your dirty kind of dreaming.

Breathe softly. Do not breathe badly: yawning, sighing, groaning, and whining are all offenses in

this category. (My voice is a physical protuberance, a large elongated mole that starts at the

back of my throat and grows all the way out of my mouth?)

IT IS OKAY to make fun of garish headstones (i.e. big breasted angels weeping over the dead)

these individuals probably aren’t popular with the dead anyway. Even the dead have a social

hierarchy that must be respected- (rotting does not equal anarchy)?

What does it mean to be without a uvula? (Sometimes I think I have a daughter who is missing

a vulva?)

What does it mean to talk through a cat?

Who opens his mouth

and everyone is instantly transported to an old and scary house?

The kind that in your childhood made you piss your pants

a little any time you looked at it?

I didn’t know girls had to change their jeans more often than men? An older boy told me, you

smell like cunt. I thought this meant I was fuckable and my skin glowed for days and days?

Does this mean my daughter is a haunted house?

Does this mean my daughter dreams of occupying a haunted house? Dreams in houses?

Dreams in age?

In either case, it is unnatural. No one would disagree with this sentiment.

I promise to bite off her hands after she is born. Baby hands look like bubblegum, soft and pre-

digested. Maybe if she has no hands you will refrain from killing her and me?

If dead children return, really I am alone. None of my friends will come out to play.

After my daughter died I was alone,

and my house was so silent?

It took me WEEKS to learn the sounds of this silence?

In the early morning hours

I first heard the house talking to me. Here is its language:

murmurations and groans. There are many types of groans.

My favorite was

the way the house shifted its weight from foot to foot.

I did not know I was living inside a living?

And even though my daughter was dead, the cat refused to leave. I bolted the front door, and

he moved through walls like they were nothing.

One night I opened his jaws and looked inside, searching for the cat’s uvula. His breath was a

sour ocean, the top of his soft palate rotting. He should go to a doctor, I thought? He will die

soon, I thought?

Inside his mouth there was so much I had not known about my daughter, so much I had not

known about myself?

My head fell into his, and his body into my body?

Will I be better in a different life? Will I be good and kind?

In another world I am sure, I am so sure of this, we all decided to remove our eyes? Spread

them on toast, or whatever food item you prefer, and eat them. And then for the rest of our

lives we told each other stories about these eyes?

YOU WON’T BELIEVE ME but mine were fantastic. Blue around the rim. Mine were so dark, they

looked like mud. And we talked and talked about those eyes and nothing else. Mine were just

okay, but in that world, I believed they were the jewels of angels?

I’ve never seen dark, or rather, I’ve never seen nothing?

When I turn out the lights my eyes play tricks on me.

Like me, I do not think they like the idea of being alone, of not existing.

Maybe this is how my daughter-not-daughter was born.

I lift the folds of my lover’s stomach,

(OH MY GOODNESS,              Oh my goodness,

Oh my goodness).

I have never rated my lovers on a scale of 1 to 10, never articulated the level of attractiveness

of my lovers?

I have only been in awe of their form. It’s too many details to take in, to come up with some

sort of conclusion?

But I am capable of revulsion. But maybe maybe maybe maybe that is only in rememory after

you have left me?

I see warnings, maybe?

Or are those premonitions on your body that you will hurt me?

Do you think if I had looked closer, somewhere on your body would be a warning:

my sperm will give you a daughter

missing a uvula,

who is really a haunted house.

Do you think there would be another warning?

You are gestating inside your own child, an inversion of telescoping generations—practically

human aphids?

And you will take her cat for a lover not sure if he was really the father,

or if you just fell into his mouth?

And if that was just an act of devotion,

or he really intended to eat you—daughter, old house, and all?

You have a sensation of falling

and at night you have trouble telling where your skin is, where your fingers are? Where your

feet and the earth differ? But you peeled it back, ruined it for all of us. And we are standing

thousands of feet beneath where we used to stand?

 

CAT INGRID LEECHES lives and writes in Alabama, where she is the current editor of Black Warrior Review. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Collagist and Passages North. She has a small carnivorous cat named Dirtbike.