MONOLOGUES to perform at the end of the world
by Lenna mendoza
Issue 3: Knowledge
I always thought we’d go out in a big way, like the dinosaurs did. With a nuclear winter or an incurable virus, maybe even an alien invasion. Just something more total and exciting. Ah, that’s morose, I’m sorry. But truly, the strangest part was how piecey it was. When it finally clicked, I was wading through the streets of Miami, still trying to get the point across about climate change, my camera slung around my neck like an albatross. I had some great pictures of pelican nests in playground equipment and municipal trash cans. Another of a toddler’s shoe floating at a school entrance. I was feeling really good about myself, like I could use that bleak city to make a difference. My little brother rang me, sobbing something incoherent about the news and blood and firing squads, and it sunk in. The next week the gas pumps ran dry. More killings and raids, then we learned to scrounge for food. And all the while the seas kept rising.
When my son and I found the supermarket, I collapsed, gripping the rusted bars of a shopping cart while he slammed himself against the once-automatic doors. Sure, the good food was gone. Mostly what was left were huge bags of Halloween candy, but after chewing on leather belts and grubs it was bliss. Sweeter than fruit rotting off the trees. We know better but we can’t stop eating it, even when stomach and headaches bloom through us. He makes me chains of wrappers; I drip in foil, plastic, waxed paper—a cheap queen. Sheer luxury until I noticed the film on my teeth. I can hear them rotting, creaking like a wood frame house riddled with termites. I keep dreaming of the dentist’s chair: his latexed fingers cradled in my mouth, the fragrance of chemical creams, the slow give of my enamel to his drill bit. But my son won’t take them out. So each night I extract the farthest one back with pliers. I bury them beside the empty dumpster.
I cannot stop my mouth but I promise I’m trying force of habit as they say but the worst part is there’s nothing even left to talk about and yet still I prattle endlessly I chatter or lecture or jabber or bleat like a sheep or a sheet of paper out of uncle’s red dictionary the one with the clippings of white women in their negligees stuck between the entries which were lifted from a magazine by the name of Tease that he would purloin from the corner store along with smokes and candy to quiet me while at home auntie read Candide in rugged whispers and the dog whimpered at her feet beside the cracked leather seat I do miss the domesticity the bland comforts of coconut water and crisp hand towels my aunt and uncle who must be dead now I do miss shutting my mouth my throat gets dry but it only gets worse if I cry about it and sometimes I miss the ladies in the magazine tall and curved and clean and the dog when I no longer remember their faces.
Lenna Mendoza is a poet living in Seattle. She recently earned her BA in English from Rice University, where she was a recipient of the George Williams Prize for Poetry. Her work has previously appeared in Sky Island Journal and undergraduate literary anthology plain china.