Here is the piece, which is an excerpt from “Restless Before Migration,” my novel-in-progress:
I’ll go down to the Saloon tonight, despite the fact that I don’t feel like drinking, and even though Jenny and Amanda are staying home. There are rumors that the Outlaw Wingless Mick has been sighted in these parts, putting both winged and wingless alike on edge. Jenny implores me not to go out, calls me foolish, and I tell her, like the tragic heroine of some old-time story, Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. No one will notice if one more wingless girl goes missing.
I’m going to the Saloon to see you play guitar in the mariachi band that hit town six months ago and still hasn’t left. And you’ll be magnificent in spite of the ridiculous costume, the tassels that jiggle on your chest as your hips move in time with your strumming, wings furled ever so slightly to frame your lithe, dark body. You’ll have a smile for me, and maybe a wink while you play, and some kind words between sets as you grimace down a whiskey, straight up.
You’ll eventually blow town with the band, when the bandits start really closing in, or just when the winter calls you south. Tonight you’ll partner some dark-eyed beauty on the dance floor, flirt wing-to-wing as she perfectly anticipates your every move. She’ll be at home in her body as you are in yours; you whom I spied flying hoops just outside town, in spite of the danger of enemy arrows; you who celebrate the miracle of your body with each gesture: your muscles sing.
I know my going to the Saloon is silly, bound as I am to the ground, clumsy with the missing weight, daring not to wear bare-back dresses like she can, ashamed of the scars incurred when I was a child: my parents were starving. I don’t harbor any illusions about you thinking our afternoon conversations in the cornfields can replace the body’s grace, nor do I believe you might ask me to dance. In any case, I don’t dance, unbalanced as I am, though my fibers, too, long to stretch, to feel the weight of the music animate them. My body, too, secretly desires to give flight to some awkward expression of inner grace; my body too secretly desires, and desires much.
But I don’t dance, except for my eyes as they follow you, dancing.