The first time I saw Death, her dress was a trip wire. I found a man slumped under the branches of a huizache, held hostage by the heat to its shade, his hand over the wound in his stomach like a lid that must throttle. He didn’t ask for help or water. He looked up, gave me the lame bird of his handshake. Whispered for me to sit down next to him. So I could see what he was seeing: in the distance a city underwater, a skinny lady severing the silver thread with her scythe.
A dung beetle climbed out of the dead man’s mouth. He let his last breath sail, & it was the horned kind we used to find belly up after they battered their bodies against the wall of our house. Even if you won’t hear me out, I plucked it from his lips, did what we did back then—leash its horn with twine, took it for a walk, & in the end, that was the spark that led me to a tunnel lit by fluorescent miles of thought, shrines to Malverde couched into its walls, & an orange Datsun waiting where an actual road began.
Got out of the Datsun, found myself at the bottom of a day lit up by the barking of dogs that appeared on roofs of every house, tricksters came out of corners selling hits they called, El fin de tu culo. The more I kept going, the deeper into the noise I got. A woman showed me the dance of death tattoo on her inner thighs, & I knew I was in Sumidero. By dusk that was me soaring upside down, spun in the sky from a pole wearing the wings of an eagle, & only that woman with eyes the color black if it bled could talk me down.