A Family History of Curses

Your mother was an abandoned, half-naked mannequin on display in a peep show window. She said she was just pretending but I knew she was not. I escorted her out and held her stiff hand all the way through the flooded streets to the corner of a widow’s bedroom. For this occasion, the widow tangled her collection of dying orchids around the wrought iron bed. Hair clippings I collected from the floor of a boarded-up barbershop filled the mattress. Your mother assembled the box spring from wood stripped from church pews and surplus trampoline springs. Plastic doll arms, disposed syringes taken from red biohazard bins and Mardi Gras beads torn from the necks of ghosts hung from the ceiling. The hurricane shook the one hundred year old house while the widow played the melody on the piano’s black keys to the rhythmic creaks of your conception. After the storm passed we rode in boats in search of warm pie and hot milk but the boats became useless as the flood waters emptied into the sea and all that was was nothing. The widow stayed on to tend her rooftop garden even if the National Guard helicopters said no. The cars on the interstate were abandoned once the gas ran out. And once we were settled again, your mother whispered to herself every night before sleeping on a canvas cot housed inside the eighth wonder of the world that at least one man will drown in the Mississippi tonight.

William Cordray grew up in Stafford Texas.