restricted access Cleaning Out
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22 Cleaning Out Your mother raised you to be a hauler of objects. The tender skin of your hands belies years spent dragging the deep freezer across her desert-dusted garage—now at the east, now the south wall. Years that taught you never to mutter when a light-eyed woman points a chin at corrugated cargo abandoned in a corner. You don’t ask what they are—these unmarked, untaped boxes, the cardboard four-folds leaving room for shed tails of lizards, spaces for scorpions and pocket mice to out-wait afternoon. A man who knows how to avoid hernia, you lift, perspiration stitching a fine trim at your jaw, the uneven thread of your lips tugging at cheek flesh with the effort, muscle fibers weaving a twill on your arms. Your knuckles thud the door frame as a matter of course, knocking even when the pressed-fiber boxes hold the remnants of past lives: slacks that no longer fit, legs thrown in a cross over unopened bills, photos pushed so hard against cardstock they create their own negatives, 23 print faces gone blue in the half-light. You walk out under dusk, boots scuffing the cracked dirt in the field, daring tarantulas to scuttle in your path as you slam a box under the Joshua tree, then strike a long-limbed match against your heel. This page intentionally left blank. ...

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