They fill up the corners of the room, congregating and crowding
on the tile floor. It is early, and already humid, and the soles
of our feet sweat and collect dismembered wings as we walk
into the kitchen. I do not know how many wings
one termite has, but there at at least a thousand wings
swirling across the floor in the air we stir up with our feet.
My grandparents were converted by a door-to-door vaccuum salesman. He came to the door with pamphlets on suction and household dust volume, and stepped across their threshold with a sales pitch about spears in sides and salvation from damnation. It was the language that convinced by grandmother, the salve and the save and the saviour. She was, in a past life, Quebecois, so the extra vowel slipped in here and there. The colours of the cross, red and brown and green and washed white as snow. My grandfather fell for the solidity of it all. A dairy man, but low in the ranks, he had hard calloused hands and a gruff rare-deployed voice that seemed coarse as his beard to me. He was the damnation and the urgency of repentance lest the hellfire laps at your feet tomorrow. Not that he was the thundering type, it was more of a smoulder in his eyes, rocking in his chair, reading large print Readers Digest, or the Bible.
My grandmother said once that my grandfather was the most handsome man she ever laid eyes on, excepting Elvis. She showed me her wedding dress that evening, too. A waist so tiny I couldn’t hope to wear the dress even at eleven years old, tiny blue embroidered flowers stictched into the full tulle skirt. A beauty of a dress. They met when she was fourteen, and my mother was born just after her sixteenth birthday. Because of that, I think, her and my mother have always acted more like sisters than anything. My mother helped raise the little ones, and when they sit together at a kitchen table, covered in faded, checked oilcloth, t.hey giggle like girls. They are small, and sweet, and full-faced in their later age. You could imagine them as sisters, and it is easy to see how beautiful they were in youth.
I am not like them. There is nothing small about my body. I am very tall for a woman; for anybody. My hands are large, veined, my feet wide. My eyelashes are long and my chin is strong and my hair is huge and in the summer when it is humid I have a halo of little curling hairs around my head, forehead, large eyes, fat lips, big teeth.
And yet. Yet.