Woman With Fevers
All those years she lived in that time-yellowed shack, windows opened wide
In winter and, come summer, fireflies roaming the rooms, we never knew.
Even in desperate boyhood, when the young toughs, our gonads all ablaze,
stood, cheered and cajoled in her worn dirt sideyard, singing, begging for her
to come out, all of us imagining her famous hot breath blowing across our thighs.
Not until she died did we have any idea why her body temperature always hovered
at one hundred and four. How her insides simmered, if her dreams smoked even
on frosted nights. After the autopsy, the coroner, encouraged by too many beers,
revealed what he found inside her. Row after row of tiny suns, some large as pearls,
each of them glistening, bestowing light and heat.
Maybe we were amazed. But in another week we went back inside. Ourselves,
is what I mean. Pretended we knew nothing about the way she lived, how well
she had managed with what was dealt her.
Perhaps she was better than the rest of us. But if we felt this, we kept it to ourselves,
locked in our cold hearts.
In time, we buried it beneath our ways.
Christopher Woods is the author of a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY (Panther Creek Press), and a collection of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK (Stone River Press). His plays have been produced in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas.