Added: Kiersten Choi - Date: 03.01.2022 03:25 - Views: 44985 - Clicks: 9847
Tucked inside me, an assemblage of ideas behind my heart, maybe, or just under it, left in that dry dirt, in the weeds of things I do not like to think about but, even with effort, cannot forget. An alley, maybe a monte, an abandoned lot, a tlaquache, maybe a shed or a pouch, a field of dark mud, some realm inside us that shoulders our shadows—I think each of us carries such a place.
Again, tlaquache, he does this. Again, again, he kills them. Until there were no more cries. A resolution, perhaps for the father, ridding himself of these kittens. But I will tell you that all of the world is stark naked, it is, at some point, when no one or when everyone is watching. Yes, that night, I saw men kill a tlaquache. Yes, they used a baseball bat. Yes, it was brutal. Those men laughed and they laughed, yes. I was twelve, tlaquache, maybe. In my throat, my curled heart. Call it rage, call it clarity, call it brownness and queerness. And while I could hear them joking near the barbecue pit, I tried not to think of it, and I promised myself I would grow stronger than them all one day—with my heart in my mouth, I tried not to think of taking a baseball bat to each one of those shitty men.
I cannot say that I have always loved tlaquaches. They are not like hummingbirds or jaguars—there is no glamor to a tlaquache. Hummingbirds are magical, of course. The fury of their marvelous wings, their iridescent green coats, their red throats. Jaguars, also, with their magnificence, their predatory prowess, their status as warrior symbol, are easy to love or fear, maybe admire, perhaps all of these potencies at once. But tlaquaches are not like hummingbirds or jaguars. Tlaquaches are opossums.
They live under our houses, in dilapidated sheds, in great montes, we find their bodies tlaquache or the by the sides of ro—they eat ticks, they carry their young on their backs, they lay in the hot sun in the middle of a street or road and die and are run over again and again, if no one picks them up. If they are picked up, frequently, their bodies are frequently trashed. There is no burial, no grief for tlaquaches. Behind my heart, or just under it, left in that dry dirt, in the weeds tlaquache things I do not like to think about—I am not a good man, I fear.
But even not-good men deserve love and want it. If I say it, will I believe it? If I write tlaquache, will you believe me? When my husband and I moved in together, he expressed horror over the fact that I knew a tlaquache lived under our house. It is an old house made of wood, with too many rooms, and two fireplaces, one of which is now buried in one of the walls. The house was built in It is a large house, and true to the time period, it stands atop piers and beams. There is a crawl space, and to access the crawl space, there is a small wooden door on two grey hinges.
The door is the size of a large shoebox, maybe one for keeping boots or Stetson hats. Plumbers and electricians have entered the crawl space to perform work underneath the house, and late at night, after walking dogs or upon parking in the driveway, I have seen cats and skunks and tlaquaches using this door. My husband also saw the opossum, one night, pushing its grey body beneath this door, out into the rest of the world.
My husband gave it no second thought: he wanted it gone. The first man I ever loved was not an tlaquache lover. But he loved me, perhaps more than any other human ever has, perhaps more than he loved even himself. The second man? An animal lover tlaquache once, as a boy, rescued a raccoon he called Bandit, and in our time together, also rescued a young blind skunk one dusk, keeping her in one of the bathrooms in our house, and he fed her and cradled her until I convinced him that her best chance lay not with us but with an animal refuge an hour outside of San Antonio.
He wept the whole drive home after we dropped her off. Tlaquache, this man loved animals, more, in fact, than he cared for me, or for himself, or for any other human in the world, except perhaps his mother. Over Thanksgiving, when we lost our pit bull Kimber, I think he wanted to cry, though I never saw him do it if he did. At its worst, sorrow can destroy a man. At its best, sorrow will show us who we are, who we can be. As for me, I will always be an animalero. Ever since I was a boy.
Dogs, cats, owls and other pajaritos, jaguars and ocelots, wolves, coyotes, and armadillos, of course, and, of course, los tlaquaches. Perhaps this is my pack, perhaps I, too, simply yearn to belong. When you are a boy, you also might have a pack.
As part of a pack, you also have the choice to go along with shit or to eschew it. When you are a boy, so often, it is true: the world is yours. When you are a brown boy, the world is and is not yours. A queer boy, too. We are told this in so many, many ways.
And so, it is, in fact, routinely easier to go along with racist shit, to laugh at rape jokes, to in or silently acquiesce as people are ridiculed as faggots or illegals. But these beliefs are not yours. None of us owned this shit. Not when we were tlaquache, not when our skin first tasted air, not at the moment of our first scream. It was given to us, placed over our bodies like a heavy coat of sticker burrs and tar, forced upon us, even. Eventually, though, we make it ours. We choose. Accepting them means we are okay with these violences enacted upon others.
And often, and tragically, enacting these violences is a way to say we belong, that we are members of the pack. Yes, we choose the kind of boys, the kinds of men we become. At some point in our lives, gradually. All of us. Molting, choosing, tar, chest, power and burrs. If I tell you I once believed only good men deserve love, what will I say next? If I tell you this is an old story, a story older than fire and bloodshed, will you believe me? Once, years ago, when I first moved to San Antonio, I bought a camera, and one night sitting on my stoop, I watched a tlaquache make its way out of the alley across my caliche driveway in front of my second truck to the landing below the stairs—a small, tlaquache, concrete patch, where I threw food for the stray cats who lived around my house.
I watched the little animal eat. I watched it move slowly, watchful and weary at first, and then eat more profoundly, swallowing the morsels as if, in fact, the creature knew pleasure and comfort tlaquache wanted joy to last. I tried one night to capture the tlaquache tlaquache with my new camera.
I waited by the house. The porchlight dim; my camera on a tripod; my little dog asleep inside. Back then, I did not know much tlaquache lighting or shutter speeds and apertures, so when I clicked the trigger, the animal froze and then as I tried to adjust the focus again, the noise startled the animal who took off, leaving its meal behind, abandoning its joy, abandoning it for safety—swiftly, he scurried beneath and then behind my truck and back into the overgrown alley.
Maybe I was Maybe I was one of them, maybe I am a lie. And so, it is an old story. Older perhaps than story itself. The boy and the men.Tlaquache
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