In New Orleans (where I have never been) there is a prostitute with syphilis (whom I have never met). She is missing teeth but she is lovely, and when I first encounter her in dreams (that I have not yet had) she tells me about cherries. She owns a cherry pitter, a device (that I had never seen) which looks more suited to torture than pie. She pits cherries and with her blood-stained hands I ask her what she wanted to be. She licks off the not-blood juice, and tells me she wanted to go to India (where I will never go). I ask her why, and she looks wistful - a feeling imaginary (she has never been). She dreams up a life with castes far crueler. I ask her why she does not feel trapped in this daydream as well, and she tells me about colors (that don’t exist).

I imagine stained glass

(but God)

then I imagine desert sunsets

(but clouds)

then I imagine sunsets in smoggy cities.

The colors are closer, I imagine, when man blows smoke into God’s creation. I open my mouth but don’t say this (I never can). I ask instead about the smells of India. She looks around the kitchen, and says she imagines it smells like spices (that will never do) in a town this broken, and still flooding.

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