Lisa Veyssiere
How I Dream About You Now


      About five foot six, long hair and bones. A scar under your left cheekbone, varicella arrived early and hit us both hard that year. Skin like butter. We were supposed to make photographs of daybreak over the Veracruz harbor. The Nikon stayed in your bag, what we wanted was to lay on Montepio beach in our new bathing suits, mine green, yours orange. It was the color to wear when you want to let the hunters know you are not the target they have a license for.

      On this morning, our mother dug in the dirt for terra cotta relics already forgotten during a time nobody remembers anymore. One can learn a great deal about items buried without ceremony. You were my sister, and my charge, and there are things I try to remember about you now. As you ran into the waves that summer, did you turn around, as I always did, to gauge your distance from the shore? How you won over crowds of strangers at the Veracruz market. Which one of us learned about broken hearts first. If you'd used our mothers body creme that morning, you would have smelled like fig. One person, two people, or all three, for we never knew how many, might know, but not me, and I can't ask you now.

      Our father taught us things for the beach; they were useless. Admonishments that went unused by me and unheeded by you. Don't stare directly at the sun. If you scream in the water, make sure you mean it. Don't talk to strangers. Don't smile at strangers. You never smiled at strangers, because you never needed to. The daughters of the anthropologist, we did not know anything about the children of men. Maybe you did that day, later, but from where you lie now, you aren't telling.

      After that Thursday was over, I aspired to have only had two people in my life at all times. One in whom I might confide, and one whom I would love, and this is how I live my life still, although you are gone, so I don't confide in anyone. How you might have lived your life, who can know? We can never know what would have become of you.

      Fourteen years later, daybreak over the Gulf of Mexico changes nothing. If it's true that the sun sets with a technicolor splatter in the east, this morning it rose with the pink of an infant nursery. It was nothing but sunshine that aged too quickly. If you were here, you'd laugh at my sentiment, and I'd tell you I can't help it. When I dream, it's how I dream about you now.

      Things you did not do that morning: use sunscreen, wear our father's hat. I covered my feet with sand and looked into the horizon. Beyond the shore break, I believed I saw dolphins, flying fish, a porpoise, and then neither, but you stretched out on the ground under the Gulf clouds, the geography of a fever dream, and showed me all three. It was a Thursday. It was not yet noon.

      Then: A vehicle pulling into the parking lot. We hear loud music before we see the American truck. Mismatched doors, three sets of tattooed arms, and Texas plates, long rusted out and now the orange of your swimsuit. Did they mark you then? They may have marked you then. Boards in back. Long hair out the windows. One of them smiled at you, and you pulled baby hair out of your eyes and turned your face towards the sun and said, "Did I tell you last night when I dreamed, I dreamed of danger?"