By Lucía Orellana Damacela
It’s dark under the house, the smell of the sea —less than one mile downhill— expands my nostrils like desert flowers. From this underbelly, this rocky refuge, as I pass by, a sudden shimmer calls me in. I am wearing white cotton socks and plastic sandals that screech as I walk. Two small green-yellow lights are suspended in front of me at the end of the encasing blackness. They shrink with my steps, and open back when I stop. I walk toward it, fascinated by this bond between the lights and the movement of my feet. I hear my dad’s voice behind me, sudden and calm like a controlled explosion. Don’t move, he says, I’ll go get you. Get me from where, I think, not understanding. He is with me in no time, his back curved to fit in the space. Come with me, he says, grabs my small hand and starts walking backwards. His eyes locked on the yellow-green lights, which now look hard as gems. My eyes have now adapted to the dark and I can see what I couldn’t before. I can see that these gems are attached to a lean face attached to a lean body, the body of a large cat with honey fur, dark spots and a guarding tail. Look, I say, pointing. Yes, I see it, don’t point. We have reached the edge, and sunlight takes us in. I want to go back down there and pet that beautiful being. My dad says no, we have to get inside the house. At night, in my bed, I let the big cat bathe my face with its tongue and its blinding eyes, their light inside me.
Lucía Orellana Damacela is the author of the poetry collection Sea of Rocks (Unsolicited Press, 2018), inHERent (Fly on the Wall Press, forthcoming), the chapbooks Longevity River (Plan B Press, 2019), and Life Lines, which won The Bitchin’ Kitsch Chapbook Competition (2018). Her work has been published in both English and Spanish in more than twelve countries, in periodicals and anthologies such as Tin House Online, Carve, Sharkpack Annual, The Gravity of the Thing, Digging Through The Fat, Slippery Elm, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and The Acentos Review.
© Lucía Orellana Damacela
Photo Credit: © Gessy Alvarez