My mother once told me I have a magician's hands. Punctuating hands. When I laugh my eyes crinkle like accordions. I am the sexiest I’ve ever been, sitting alone in this bustling restaurant, watching.

Tonight, I’ll reconstruct your likeness and end up with a ransom note of a man. My attempts of you lie all over the floor in scraps. I reuse each part until it lies withered and unrecognizable in my palms. Some I collect in jars. All the ears sit on a shelf. The fingerprints form a pile of shavings next to my bed. I hold each up to the light before I go to sleep. I stare at them until my eyes water. By now it is more ritual than research.

I’d tell these strangers, these ripe, heavy bodies that swell in their booths, that it’s no mystery. You are all the men. The ones who refuse to expire. No-names, faceless, rattling their chains. Begging for more water and sunlight. Piles of writhing carcasses held together by safety pins and surgical tape, bleeding through scabs and throbbing with old infection and rot.

All the women in the restaurant are beaming. They text their husbands and wives and therapists and moms. The lonely ones feel less lonely. Breasts are perkier and skin is glowing and everyone who opens their mouth spills out a sonnet.

I smile as they pass by my table, single file, and wave. A parade.

No one mentions my hands, which haven’t stopped shaking since I swallowed your name. My hands, which move faster and faster. Two hummingbirds. A young girl comes up to me.

“Excuse me lady, you’re missing something.”

She draws a silk scarf from my throat and ties my wrists together.

“There. All better!”

minx. oakland, ca.

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