Love & Radiation
My ma and I lived in Gray’s Ferry, in ear-splitting proximity to the hospital; from my bedroom window I could see the red and white carnival lights of the ambulances. Awake, I was totally inured to the sirens, a whine that we’d been hearing throughout Anthem since birth—that urgent song drilled into us so frequently that our own heartbeats must have synced with it, which made it an easy howl to ignore; but I had dreams where the vehicular screams in the urgent care parking lot became the cries of a gigantic, abandoned baby behind my apartment. All I wanted to do in these dreams was sleep but this baby wouldn’t shut up! Now I think this must be a special kind of poverty, low-rent city sleep, where even in your dreams you are an insomniac and your unconscious is shrill and starless.
Larry Rubio, from Karen Russell’s “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis.”
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