Matthew Tavares

  “It was reported her hat and cane had 

been found on the bank of the Ouse River. 

Mrs. Woolf had been ill for some time.”

-New York Times article from April 3rd, 1941

The locusts float like smoke in the still air.

Silence chokes the girl lying on the sheetless mattress.

Sweat and tears make love on her skin, in the dry heat of Juárez.


Already she has been fucked twice today,

the last man hit her as she was falling asleep,

the heroin singing

like white-noise in her mind.

The left side of her face is a purple mountain,

shimmering in the light

of her prison.

Her eyes fall to the back of her head,

like sand to the tide.

Half-dreaming she recalls the days in church,

the pastor claiming the redemptive love of Christ

and how sinners can save themselves. 

Her self, as if she knew.

She screams in her head, like yelling underwater.

The anger passes, she cries, and decides that

Christ and heroin are the same thing.

The burnt spoon, the goblet.

The smack, the bread.

The fire, the blood.

Both worth dying for.

On the mattress with no sheets, her eyes now open, awake.

She lies on her stomach, aching to move.

For a moment she pretends the harsh light of the sun

on her face is the hand of heaven.

She speaks into the hand,

dust following the words out of her mouth,

“I was born here, I live here, I will die here.”

The moment ceases, she doesn’t see the hand anymore,

the call of the needle, the bruises, the nausea of this life,

weigh her down like the pebbles in Virginia’s coat.

Matthew Tavares is a seventh grade English teacher in San Antonio, Texas. His work can be found in various journals such as Voices de la Luna, Sagebrush Review, and The Thing Itself. He holds a BA in English Creative Writing from the University of Texas San Antonio. He is currently pursuing an MFA from Our Lady of the Lake University.

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