Boiling Puffins

Laura Villareal

Or were they penguins? 3 million

boiled into lamp oil

                            & their beaks sold

as children’s masks during summer festivals.

Listen, I don’t know if the last part is true.

My mind adds extra details to every story.

Like when my dad buys kitchen knives

at garage sales, it feels ominous.

He says, no one can ever have enough good knives.

I’m sure people sell used kitchen knives all the time.

             Serrated blades are a hot seller, amiright?

But the year we got a dog,

my dad’s coworker stabbed his wife

until she played dead

& the cops never found that knife,

so I worry about the history of everyday objects.

I shop at Target since vintage & antique

are ways of saying pre-haunted.

I get the heebie jeebies easy. I have goose bumps

thinking about the smell of antique promise rings.

Listen, I shouldn’t be hypocritical. I’ve told all my lovers

that my body is full of ghosts,

                                              but who hasn’t, right?

I’ve told them to please not touch

the scar on my thigh.

                                It’s from a hunting knife.

I’ve told them antique shop rules apply:

you break, you buy.

When I’m driving, I begin wondering about cars & dogs

left on the roadside.

                            Especially those near rivers & lakes,

would I ever leave mine abandoned like that?

I read once that over half a million people disappear

every year in the U.S.

                             & there’s not enough milk cartons

for all of their faces because of millennials

             who’ve ruined the milk & cereal industry.

I’ve heard the mind forgets trauma

if it loves its owner enough.

But, listen, that one probably isn’t true

                     I read it on a message board in 2006.

When I can’t sleep, I read wikiHows

about erasing myself from the internet.

It’s easier than you would think

to leave & never be found. It’s easier

to start new, as someone else sometimes.

If someday my car is found abandoned by the river,

my cell phone vibrating in the knife drawer,

would you listen for me late at night

putting my key in the door?

Would you believe me if I told you I left

something important at home & came back,

put my head on your chest & just listened?


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