What He Gave Me
by Laura Rheaume
The peyote he gave me, traded for a glass angel. It saw out of porcelain eyes, fine eyelashes, wide enough to trap spiders. Glimmering blue points, alight. The peyote, not the angel. Of course the angel did not see out of its eyes.
The peyote he grew on the side of the highway where no one expected or knew what it was. He advised me to stay away from mirrors three days before and after contact.
The peyote he packaged, the buttons in ribbons. Soft and cute as rabbit dolls, with eyes open and black and palpitating sweetly, the pink on the face panting. Infantile, curiously nosing, sweating supine on his bed. The soft orange glimmering in points on my skin, hands folded in prayer, spine folded in ecstasy. The folds of my cerebral cortex unraveling to make room for the expansion.
The peyote he fed me, along with the wicks of cheap, sainted candles. He held one end while I swallowed the other, told me to burn faster or I would die. Like touching in the crib. Almost blind. No names to the feelings, so there are no feelings. A blue, a green, a purple, but no edges.
The peyote he cooked on my doorstep while the surge of violets came down from the hills to wheeze at his feet. I was made sick from the salt in his food. All day, an unremitting hunger. Ripping feathers and rodent pelts off the walls, the house was a body and I skinned it.
The peyote tea he gave to the dogs, filled the wild bird feeder with, watered the plants with. He turned ferns into cannibals. Everything had to journey with him while he roved drunk in his wilderness.
The peyote he took to the streets and sold as a cure for cancer, and a cure for pain. The people took it home and cooked it in the family stew, adding lilies and doves.