Birds by Lizz Huerta

My brother Oscar’s burning sage again. Some new white girl must be over, feeling like she’s about to be one with the sacred wheel of the fucking universe. I look out the window, there’s a hybrid parked out front. This one will be stupid easy; a dream-catcher hangs from the rear-view mirror.“Some people,” Oscar’s told me, “Need to feel they’re more than what they are.”Rolling ladies was something he picked up on one of his “spiritual retreats from society.” His last retreat was for parole violation. When he returned he started braiding his heavy metal hair, scribbling in journals at free-trade coffee shops. White girls love that shit; they don’t care that Oscar isn’t a real indigenous; they see brown skin, turquoise rings, and their hemp panties slide right off.

From upstairs I can hear Peruvian flutes playing the theme from Titanic.

“First,” he says, “You make them think you don’t want it, that your journey allow it.” He even learned to talk like them.

But the girls always want it. They bring him crystals, incense, sacred rocks.

The flutes end. This is when Oscar unbraids his hair, finger brushes it, eyes closed serious. The girl will watch, like she’s part of some ancient ritual. He’ll ask her untangle the back. She’ll run her hands through his hair; he’ll sigh, tilt back, a little more, more. Game on.

One of the white girls got crazy when Oscar told her they had to go separate ways. She knelt on the lawn wailing. “It’s the Solstice, Oscar! I want to be with you!” He told her his way was one of solitude. She started pulling at her blonde dreadlocks.

“I’ll say it! I’ll say your spirit name so everyone hears it and you lose your power!” He somehow kept serious.

“I was wrong about you, Abigail.” He said slowly, “Your spirit animal isn’t a bird, it’s a fish.” She took off, sobbing. It was fucked up, but funny.

The music is back, some Yogi shit. It means the girl is naked, he’s worshipping her “yoni.” This is where the line between the holy man and savage blurs and they’ll do anything. These girls don’t have Catholic guilt. The shit they scream. . . What does wanting to be fucked like an animal have to do with spiritual awakening?

Oscar knows once a woman has let loose like that she might get weird. After the fuck he makes himself cry, tells her that he saw her true spirit, names her. And who doesn’t want to feel that someone can look into us and see who we are? He tells the girls they’re birds; hollow-boned, soaring above the rest.

I hear her leave. I look. She’s typical for one of his birds; wide-eyed, fragile. He walks her to her car, kisses her third eye He watches, hands in Namaste as she drives off. When she turns the corner he comes back, grinning like the fucking cat he is.