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Aja Lia

   
"Behold the deepest light, of the tender fire"  
  -Saint Marco, 1664.    
   
   
   
She likes to carry a bible.    
I don't judge too harshly.    
There's worse things.    
   
   
As a child, in her home country,    
she sold matchsticks by the bundle.    
At twelve, they're expected    
to sell them door to door,    
where the lanterns were kept bedside.    
   
Three dollars American, to them,    
was a day's pay like their fathers.    
But blue-eyed buyers got a break.    
Because a pale-eyed baby would be a ticket    
to the promised land.    
So they thought, from hopeful rumors.    
Yet, did any of them    
ever get to leave that way?    
   
At fourteen, the Catholics came.    
No more match girls.    
They were liberated from that fire,    
so was promised.    
They were then called house cleaners.    
   
One broom, for each.    
If it was forgotten    
inside a dark lit room,    
it was taken out of their pay.    
The old women would bundle some straw,    
and hand them another one.    
   
And, no more eating goats.    
It was considered unclean.    
So no more meat,    
even though they only had it    
Friday to Sunday.    
No cows, here.    
But there were plenty of fruits    
and vegetables    
to rummage through,    
after the trucks took their fill away.    
   
She joined the Mission,    
learned English from the bible.    
Refined her ability, as a young teacher,    
learning as she taught those    
barely younger than her.    
   
But her family sent for her.    
Her father was ailing,    
a broken back.    
Her brother had went to the coast,    
for fish    
and never came home.    
   
No.    
She'd found her place.    
   
16. She was to marry    
a young man that    
her parents and his    
agreed upon.    
She would get to meet him    
at their wedding.    
   
In trade,    
her parents would get a mule    
and a promise for glass,    
for the house windows.    
   
She fled, in the caravan    
of missionaries,    
to California.    
They'd hide her,    
within the halls    
and myriad of columns    
with so many other    
trapped souls.    
   
Her trust got her two sons,    
that went to proper homes.    
How would she really know, though.    
At least at night,    
she was allowed    
to sleep only with hope.    
   
An uncle came looking for her,    
he was dressed very well.    
Yet she had no uncles.    
So she fled,    
blind into the rest    
of America.    
A bus got her far;    
Thirty years of anywhere    
but there.    
   
So, here.    
Right next to me.    
   
&    
   
I'm fixing her fence.    
It's the fifth thing    
I've repaired for her.    
She offers to pay every time,    
and I tell her that her smile    
makes us even.    
   
She is beautiful;    
The scars on her cheeks    
and the knots on her hands    
and the dark holes    
in her eyes    
where her sons should be.    
   
I wish I could give her    
everything back.    
But I can't.    
   
Yet I will fix    
everything she ever asks    
of me.    
   
The fence is done.    
No one is getting in    
(It won't stop anyone).    
   
We stumble through    
another conversation.    
Neither of our English    
is very good.    
For different reasons.    
   
The air around me became static,    
I can't explain.    
Words stop at woken blood.    
   
-As she touched my arm    
during her mid, comfortable sentence.    
I'm sure it broke her shoulder    
and cracked her elbow,    
to do such a simple,    
impossible, thing.    
She just freed a fraction of herself.    
An incidental gift for me.    
   
I wanted to kiss her,    
to top off this miracle.    
But I knew that even strays    
don't accept just anything.    
Some people lace it with poison.    
   
She opens a door,    
from the corridor of her fear.    
They're still coming for her,    
the men with black badges.    
   
I want to tell her, so bad,    
about this other phone that I carry;    
There's a hundred and four    
of me.
Do not worry.
   
But then I'd just be like    
one of those    
that she flees.    
   
She lifts a smile    
(Her shoulder is okay).    
She mentions coincidences.    
   
I scoff    
(It's what I do).    
   
Of course it's purely chance, that    
we're in the same country    
same state, same city,    
same neighborhood    
during the same period of time    
   
and your fence needed mending    
and I knew how.    
And that just maybe your God    
approves of me.    
   
She offered me her bible,    
in trade, good for good.    
But I knew that    
it's full of just as many demons    
as it is angels.    
-Like a rock song;    
Play it backwards,    
it's a much better outcome.    
   
Hold on to it, Aja Lia.    
I'd just use the pages    
to roll a smoke.    
   
She closed the screen door on me.    
   
As I walked away, though;    
   
"My kitchen light, it's too dim"    
   
   "Okay, maybe tomorrow"    
   
"I will make you lunch"    
   
   "You don't eat meat, but    
    how about some ice cream?"    
   
"See you then, Saint Marco".    
   
   
And now,    
my head is burning...    
Who the hell is this woman,    
that God has sent to me.    
   
   
~~~    
Styxian
Written by Styxian
Published | Edited 3rd Oct 2022
Author's Note
My first name is Mark. Over the years I've been called many things. Marco is one of the better ones.
*The header quote and Saint Marco are totally made up. But I thought it made a good prelude.
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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