The heat in the apartment has killed all but one of the plants. Those who have died were my friends and I mourn them. Only Corn Plant remains, my companion of more than six years.
If I left a dog or a child in this place they would die. In the meantime I have purchased a cactus. It is covered in sharp spines and sits angrily by the window, yearning, I imagine, for a drier heat. I have named him Marcus Martin. We will try to get along.
I have adopted three alley cats who come every night to the concrete beneath my window. They are quiet, respectful of me and, for the most part, each other. The big orange one takes what he wants of the food I leave out before the calico slips in for a few bites, then slinks to the shade to lick herself. Meanwhile Tyrese has yet to feed, or at least not under my supervision. S/he is orange and white and so small, bony. Flies cover him as he sits all day long with his tail curled round his feet. On rare occasions his eyes will drift closed before flipping open again, startled by even the briefest of encounters with letting go. He stares from the same spot through the chain link fence, every day for hours, waiting. If I took him inside he would bite me, I think, out of desperation to return to the fence.
I am not sure there's much I can do to help him. I am not sure I am helping any of them, by enabling dependency on 79-cent cans of Feast. Still I have to do something. I myself have been bony and tired and covered with flies.
The glass sits only a third of the way empty on the apple crate in the
living room. I have lost my taste for vodka, diffused as it is with
memories. Instead I sip water from the new filter and believe that I
really do taste the difference.
Once we returned to the apartment to find that one of the pilot lights had inexplicably gone out. I have learned since that it is crucial for pilot lights to be burning at all times, that if the other light had blackened we could have exploded as we walked in the door. And so I am huffing and puffing, doing what I can to stoke the flames. I imagine stroking velvet noses and the huuff of horses breathing, my family's old dogs, the shooting star on the way to Vermont, wide fields full of wildflowers. I imagine the trails, a pack on my back and my body steady on the earth in well-worn boots. I remember floating leaves in rivers of rain and living life in bare feet. I remember the wolves. I remember standing on top of mountains.