Wrapped in Red



[Shall I be a Lilith woman?] I suffer from the ribbed cyst. So the Lilith woman tempts me. She brings me into the heat and leaves me to my burning fate. But this is better than what it once was. Once upon a time, a man thought he owned me and so he laid me across a bamboo cutting block and carved the rib from my chest. He cloned the bone and gave me back both pieces. This made it so that I had an extra piece of rib jutting from my breast. It was uncomfortable to walk and the jutting ribs made me think of barbecue sauce daily. That and pickled vegetables. [Let me sprout wings and see if the man can chain me down,] I said. I knew no angel that had wings like mine. I cut through stone and ice. I left the slivers for the man to find. He bleeds bright red so I know where to find him. But my blood is copper. I used to think it was blue. Someone told me about the azure veins and I believed them. They were wrong. The blood was a burnt gold. Men came from the farthest reaches of the world to beg me for a droplet. I gave them nothing, not a flake nor a scab. If they want to reach immortality, they need to sacrifice a finger, or a toenail. [Straight into the cannibal moon’s gaping mouth, I marveled.] I cover my eyes in mock horror. [Goodbye, extra digits. Meet my ribs and sire one another,] I said to him. While he fingered my rib, I took up an ax because the woman told me so. She said to cut him, so I did. There are snake vines over me. They grow iron wings and slither across my thighs. [Shall you be a part of us,] they ask and I pull my face off. Beneath my chin is a mask. It is not like any other mask. [No, I do not carry the latex covering with me. I keep the plastic to myself. I hold onto the real flesh,] I tell the snakes. Hearing this the man crawls out of the garden and offers me his hand. [Shall I take those fingers,] he asks. They are slick with dirt. I stare at the nails and see worms wriggle up from the enamel bed. I push the man back. [You really should love me,] the man says. Shall I love the man? I wonder. Or should I let him go free? Let him wander through the desert until he reaches the ocean at the other end of this land. Lilith whispers in my ear. She says that I should give him a drink of water, then use him as a willing sacrifice. She says that his name belongs on the chamber doors, that his letters are etched across the bottom of the tree trunk. It was he who carved them there. [Adam, oh my Adam,] I sing, reading the letters slowly and I beat him with a branch from the very same tree. There were demons in the closets but now they sit on my bed with their heads in their hands. They watch me as I slide past. They give me apple slices. I dip each piece of the fruit into lemon butter. [I am hungry,] I say. [Eat the man,] they say. Lilith whispers into my ear, [The man will taste like roasted beef.] She gives me the knife. I chew what parts of him I can get my teeth through. He tastes more like raw veal than roasted beef. If there is another woman I will chain her down. I will chain the Eve. Then I will chain Persephone. Then the other queens who strip their bones of meat and leave their marrow naked. I pity the calcium. It begs to be covered. I find Eve on the dining room table, legs open. [I am his wife now,] she says and points at the framed photograph of my Adam. [You are nothing but fermented meat,] I hiss at her. I eat Adam’s image, glass and all. My tongue rips. My teeth crack. If I am not the one who denied the fruit, am I the one that plucked it? Was it even an apple? Or is it just a red fruit? A quince? Or a pomegranate? Some red bulbous food built around mortality. That is why Lilith stayed alive. She didn’t burden herself with death. She let the husband and wife fight over the seeds and dig their own graves with the cores. [After you decapitate her, put her head into the refrigerator,] Lilith whispers as I place Eve’s head into the freezer. She is an Eve cube. The first wife Popsicle. A wifesicle. I let her thaw until she is soft and pudgy, then I freeze her again. Lilith claps her hands gleefully. She thinks the whole silly affair is a hoot. [There are men waiting for you,] she says and points at the walls. The plaster is lined with rows of holes filled with jutting genitals. Their mouths chew the paint. I drink a shot glass of liquid soap and foam covers my tongue. Lilith lays me down. She braids my hair into snake skins. With her eyes closed, she gives me a handful of teeth. [Plant them and they will become men,] she says. I do and they do. [If I am not the first woman, I will not settle for the second,] I announce to anyone who will listen. I sit on the fruit branch of the apple tree and allow the Adam man to eat the fruit from between my legs. There was not a tree. There was never a tree. Instead, the truth is that the woman (I) spread her thighs and revealed the branches extending from her womb (mine). The man, Adam, pulled the fruits off my vines. They tasted like bitter strawberries. Their mouthfeel was like overly ripe cherries. His mouth turned bright red. There are many other bushes outside. In pretending to be the tree, I tuck the leaves inside of me. The man walks up to me on his knees. He licks my kneecaps. There are citrus fruits inside the bones. His teeth rot the longer he waits to gargle. Lilith gave the first man and the second woman a basket of the most delicious vegetation. There were foot carrots and hand limes and many genital grapes. Lilith urged them to eat. The woman pretended to devour a fingerling potato but let it drop past her lips instead. The first man and the second woman didn’t eat and instead turned into bone. I turned into bone. Now I sit alone in the back of my closet and place my head in a garment bag crying. Lilith pulls the fabric out of my mouth. [You are meant to feed the wicked,] she says and offers me a silver platter of fruits. The fruits look like tiny severed heads. [You won’t find any preachers here,] she says and kisses my shoulder. She peels one green fruit and reveals the black-speckled meat inside. The core reflects her face. She winks and grins and files her nails on her chin. [It is better than nothing,] she confides to me. I raise fruits in the kitchen cabinets. When they ripen, they splatter me in the face. Their juice burns. It is too acidic. Then my thighs itch. I sit in the sink and Lilith washes me. She soaps my shoulders with baking soda and adds a layer of all-purpose flour. [We did not bake in the garden,] she says and I drink chocolate directly from a bottle. [There was no chocolate, either,] she says. She has told me stories about the garden before. She mentioned the enviable fruits and all the trees that were like living skyscrapers, each towering in the sky. The branches were made of glass. When Lilith glared, the glass shattered and cut the Adam man’s upper lip. Then she smiled and all the glass grew again. [What if the trees had been mirrors?] I ask as Lilith eats a pineapple, thorns and all. [We had no need for mirrors,] she says. [We weren’t supposed to know we were naked.] She shows me the spot under her ribs where her extra breast sprouted from. The breast is so small, I can barely see it. The mammary gland is more like a birth mark, a strange little mole. I poke the nipple and Lilith shivers with excitement. [You don’t understand,] she says as she opens every door in the house. [I can’t breathe when you do that,] she says as she lets the air in. She lets Adam in. He sits in a corner, crying. His eyes are bruised. We force his swollen lids open. There are fruit peels shoved into the gray sides of his cheeks. No wonder he is crying. It isn’t only a rib that Lilith has a spare of. She also has an extra eye, an extra teat, and a third leg. She milks both her teat and her extra leg in the kitchen sink. I collect the droplets. Her milk is thick and bright yellow. It is amber. Honey colored. Rotten. It is liquid cheese. It smells of chlorine. I drink a glass and vomit. Lilith paints her face bright red with her mixture of pigments and fats. She rubs her fists against the walls and leaves furrows in the plaster. [Was this how you left Eden?] I ask and Lilith shows me photographs of the forbidden tree. It is really a shrub. A tiny bush. With branches covered with thorns. Lilith’s name is written across the roots. I take a razor blade to the photograph and scrape along the outer lines of the letters. [Once upon a time,] Lilith says. [I knew a man who thought he was more than just mud. We were born simultaneously, sprouted from the same dirt clot. But the man said he was metal and I was leaves. So he tried tearing me apart. I threw water in his face and he ran off like liquid. And that was the end of the garden. It flooded with his organs and I flew away before the fluid could touch me. Once upon a time, I found a hidden garden and climbed inside. The dirt was pale gray and dotted with brilliant red flowers. I plucked the petals and every bloom had a nectar head at the center. They oozed sweet honey.] Lilith digs the pollen out of the corners of her eyes and smears the yellow across the stove top. She pulls at the spinal cords from her neck. [But I found a woman in her coffin,] Lilith explains. She digs her nails into her wrists and shifts her eyes upwards. [Were you in the garden, too?] I ask and Lilith sticks her hands into the dirt. [I should have known that the man would steal from me,] she says. She lifts the thin fabric covering her stomach to reveal the jagged scar covering her upper torso. [Deep inside there was a rib,] she says and parts the scar. She fishes around and hands me a tiny sliver of bone. Later, I plant this bone and wait outside for it to sprout. The tree that emerges from the marrow is a pale mucus color. It wavers with the breeze. The branches bend with the fruits’ weight. When the fruits fall, they shatter upon striking the ground. They are a pomegranate-quince hybrid, just like the ones on the first tree. The seeds are a brilliant orange. I pluck the seeds out of the meat and place them on my tongue. They burst and it is like drinking ten gallons of juice. My tongue tingles. [Did you even think to save some for me?] Lilith asks me. She eats the root ends and throws the edible parts at me. I dress them with thick oil and sliced garlic. Lilith opens her mouth. Her teeth are pointed. She pulls the Adam man out of the tree trunk and sinks her teeth into his neck. [I got tired of the fruit when I was in the garden,] she says and drinks from him. Lilith craves steak and so I always remember to keep the refrigerator stocked with beef. There are two Liliths and I do not know which one to side with. Both pull my arms and demand to be fed. [But I cannot give you any more meat than I have. One of you will have to settle on soup,] I say and the Liliths hiss and gnash their teeth. They both want steaks. But I cannot afford to give them enough muscle to settle their carnivorous appetite. The Adam man comes into the world and the women glare at him. They grab his shoulders. [He is my husband,] the first Lilith says. [No, he is mine,] the second Lilith says. They thumb wrestle and breathe fire at each other. The man ducks his head. He grunts and makes terrified squealing sounds. [You are not a pig,] the women shout and the Adam man crawls beneath the carpet. Secretly I roll fruits to him under the floorboards. [If you press them hard enough, you can bring about a compressed fermentation,] I whisper into the carpet fibers. The Adam man chews the hard melon rinds. [I would like to eat some chicken,] he says and I throw raw poultry at his face. He chews slowly and his lips hang past his chin. [I cannot digest all this protein,] he says. He throws the congealed fat away and sobs into the metal floor nails. The women grapple with the remains of the chicken that he did not eat. They steal bites from one another. The first Lilith pulls my hair. [I’m the one who told you about Eden], she says. [The other one is not to be trusted with Adam. She will seduce him away.] The second Lilith watches the first from the corner of her eyes and whispers to me: [I can bring you to the garden.] And so the second Lilith brings me to the holy garden. The dirt smells acidic. I kick at the many mud mounds and they collapse into ash. The second Lilith slithers up and down a tree. [Isn’t it beautiful here,] she says and pulls my hand. I follow her around the garden borders. She hands me metal bushes and a cotton-fiber tree. Every fruit I see is bruised and seeping juice. I keep my arms at my sides, afraid to touch anything. The flowers all have teeth. Their petals brush against my legs and bite into my thighs. In the garden I bleed slowly. This imposter Lilith sits on her branch and giggles as my pants turn bright red from all the flower bites. [Now that is a pity,] she says looking at my pants. The plant roots turn a dark green from my dripping blood. They twine around themselves as they reach towards my wound. [I’m not here to feed you,] I say. The second Lilith climbs onto my shoulders. She leans close to my mouth and says, [But they are relying on you for a food source.] She nips the side of my ear. [That is my mortal, and mine alone,] the first Lilith says, bursting out of a tree trunk. She knocks the second Lilith down and pushes her face into the earth. The second Lilith’s face turns to stone. The first Lilith strikes the forehead three times and leaves a crack. The second Lilith’s stone face breaks along the fault line and cracks apart. [Paradise isn’t meant for everyone, especially not you,] the remaining Lilith says. [It’s far too dirty.] The garden grows up into my window pane. Lilith feeds the weeds from her sliced thumb. Her stomach is still distended from devouring her twin. Adam sits in the kitchen counter, combing his short hair with his fingers. He whimpers and gnaws on the copper pipes. [If we exchange blood one night,] Lilith says to me. [You will develop my disease, but we will be one.] She shows me her black hair and pale white eyes. [I am a dying woman,] she says sadly. She pushes her hands through her throat and removes a bushel of ripe red fruits. She hands me two and keeps the rest for herself. [I’m so tired,] she says. [It is the man. His very presence makes my muscles weak. You can’t imagine what we’ve been through.] She opens the closet and yanks him out of his hiding spot. He curls up in her fist. Lilith cuts his sides open and takes out a pair of his ribs. He doesn’t flinch. She swallows the tiny bones. The curving parts jut out against her throat. [He stole these from me when we were younger. I was newly created. I was more liquid than solid. I was more mud than flesh. And he stole my ribs and ate them. But now I have them back. He was never meant to conquer me,] she says. She puts Adam in the sink and washes him of her gold bile. He falls asleep in her fist. Lilith turns to me. [You shouldn’t be so ready to go to the garden,] she says. [It is nicer here. You have everything you need. The garden is too… fleshy,] she says. She vomits up a small rib and hands it to me to eat…

Copyright 2014. Alana I. Capria. All Rights Reserved.

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