By Aliza Einhorn*
I will crawl on my hands and knees back to New York City and out of this fetid Florida swamp if I have to, up three flights of stairs to that 105-year old Staten Island walk-up where she lunged at me for the first time from the blue light of my MacBook Air.
I remember like it was yesterday.
Floridians and other humans often ask me: Aliza, why did you leave New York?
Do I have time for these questions? I tell them I had no choice. Now get the fuck out.
Dear reader, everything I write is a love letter. To the muse, to a man, to wherever I land. To the angels of this place, to the devils of that place. To Saint Death. La Flaca is what I call her when we’re alone although I grew up in Miami and speak no Spanish, not a word.
When it’s daylight saving time, deep in north central Florida, far enough from the coast that you are mostly safe from the damage that a hurricane can do, it’s dark in the morning.
You may not want to walk too early with me, if you don’t like walking in the dark, or if you fear wildlife. Where I live is wild. And if I don’t go for that early morning walk past the abandoned industrial buildings (which will be torn down soon enough – plans are in the works), what I do is sweep.
I sweep the front porch. I sweep the back porch. Left to right, back and front, but this is no ordinary housekeeping. Sweeping the porch is a spell. It changes what is there. It’s what witches do. It’s what I do. I push aside the corpses of lizards and palmetto bugs that garnish the front steps leading up to the house, proof the cat has been busy. Here in Florida, we are the dead.
Don’t know what to do? Go to Florida. Don’t know where to go? Florida. Swim in, swim out. Drift in, drift out. Florida Florida Florida.
Know this too: the landscape before me ain’t the extroverted palm trees of Miami Beach Coppertone tans. Our native trees are witches. Crows and owls in their bodies. When there’s a storm and the wind blows through my backyard thickets of tall tall trees, it sounds like a train on the way to somebody’s idea of hell. Left turn up ahead.
Dear reader, I never liked being in a body.
“Green is the night, green kindled and appareled/It is she that walks among the astronomers/She strides above the rabbit and the cat/Like a noble figure, out of the sky”
-Wallace Stevens, The Candle A Saint
No Santa Muerte in my house since I left New York City and suddenly I hear a voice:
GET ONE. A candle. It’s time. Light her up. The candle, a saint. This is how you love her.
But like a bad bad witch I order a candle from a “store” that sells through Amazon, and no I will not tell you what color, red black white green, and you can guess all you want, blue white red yellow black, but even before I put in the order, black white black white, I lose my hard-on for all my other saints. I no longer touch nearly naked Jesus on the cross, my flock of rosaries. Even Padre Pio, gone. Mary Queen of Heaven, gone. Fuck.
Of course I’d heard Saint Death is a Jealous Lady, but the others faded into the sticky Florida rain long before the candle came.
Dear Reader, what happened was this:
She was supposed to come unscented (the seller claimed so), but what arrived in the mail that day in a box and another box and mummified with styrofoam did stink like dollar store air freshener crossed with drunk-vomit Uber Kia. I didn’t even bring her in from the porch.
Was she telling me: Please, not here! Was she telling me: I hate Florida! Was she telling me: come back, come back to New York City, where all the candles are perfect, unscented, and come in every color. Kiss me. Open your mouth.
About a week later, me and a friend go to this not-the best but not-the-worst in town Mexican restaurant and the botanica next door sells ONE kind of Santa Muerte candle, and it’s the one I had when I lived on Staten Island: fat, tall, white, with black wrapping on the glass, her image emblazoned, no doubt a fire hazard should it burn too long or too hot on the altar, which is what my petitions smell like, a house on fire.
Now listen closely because everything I’m about to tell you is true and as it happened: in that moment I decide I must return to my beloved New York City and the Staten Island bodega across the street from where I used to live and she found me.
On Monday I think yes.
On Tuesday I think no.
On Wednesday Thursday Friday I walk outside, I leave my broom on the porch, the keys for the landlord, and say goodbye.
Dear reader, I will write you from the road.
*Aliza Einhorn, author, astrologer, tarot card reader, poet, and playwright, holds a MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is the author of The Little Book of Saturn: Astrological Gifts, Challenges, and Returns, which is hot off the press with Weiser Books. Aliza blogs at her website MoonPlutoAstrology, and does readings professionally. Follow her on Twitter.