I lie when I say they’re the only part of him I remember, him spitting the porcelain mold into his blistered hands and chasing me through the development’s dust, clacking his teeth at me the way disgruntled skeletons rattle bones, as though he were trying to scare a cloud of red into my heart, hurling his laugh skywards toward the void his constellation would soon live.
I remember his hair long like the sinew of a red willow’s heart. His feet light as starved November leaves carrying his tree-trunk self clear across the pow-wow, aunties holding me in their laps and telling me his stories—how he had kept a pet skunk, how he saved a girl tossed into the lake by a spurned lover, how he and his brother had set fire to a boarding school.
To me, he had always been living legend. Unattainable, spinning out of reach from me
like planets from their moons.
But it is his teeth that clench the eye of my memory the way weasels win throats, or how roots hold strong in the snow. If I could cradle them in my hands, I’d hold them close and let them dissolve into my chest, listen as his molars blossom like seeds in the dank mulch of my heart, ask if he were proud of who I’ve become.
His teeth would chatter and implore me to gaze into any stretch of sky and see a mirror.