House on the Hilltop

by Matthew Dexter

There was a dilapidated house on the hilltop where the wildest crows and vultures nested just before sunset, commiserating with the best of atavistic blood as they swapped stories from atop a thatched-roofed palapa which burnt to the ground too many times to count. The birds rebuilt their home, filling the ceiling with a million pieces of straw and sucking up the porous holes in the palms that the old woman vomited toward as her son went crossing the border — shot down dead in a ravine by bloodthirsty American border patrol agents.

He was throwing stones at a cactus on the other side of the fence, but as dusk swallowed crimson twilight his amigo found the son dripping intestines on the cooling dirt. The old woman soiled her pants when word reached about the incident, a few days after she noticed the peacocks had returned, and then it hit her; her forty year old gem –- heir to the nest — gone into dust.

The woman sleeps with the ashes, eats them as the condors make love and the moon comes out. A million little rays of sunshine as the breeze flaps through the deepest crevasses not even the Avatar banshees can fill. Midnight they make love, skeletal feathers peck at the headless body that the old woman left to roast on the roof.

Rotting corpse darkened by translucent dreams; emaciated sunbeams poke through the straw and she is no longer afraid, only scarred. She rises with the animals and watches them fly away. They’ll be back. They always are. One morning the demented Peregrine Falcon will peek into the house on the hilltop and notice the woman is missing, she’s still there, her body at least, but her soul is drifting away from the palapa, and only the pigeons can bring her back. The wings will then take over the house and then the hill. They already have.