I watched the summer settle two hours ago—birds flicker to chase
the south. Last night my lover told me it had never been love. Ben  
was kind of a chameleon. He took the form of things like the Brooklyn  
Bridge. He was the place that led to somewhere else. I reminded him of Jane  
Austin, prudish with small hands—though I once got penetrated by a stripper  
who drowned me in a bucket of lilies, then, replaced me with a girl named Jo. 

I plucked hair from his forearm and told him stories of my childhood Jo—
he married two summers past and drank a liter of bourbon to chase
down the bourbon. This is how we love now—he used an electric stripper
to peel the pink paint from my childroom.  I launched myself inside of Ben—
I wanted to impregnate him with me—to be reborn as his, baby Jane.
For months, I poked on the side of his stomach. I traced the outline of Brooklyn

New York to feel myself as the pulse of his city. I stayed up and cried on Brooklyn.
He had somebody else. I concealed mud water with fresh one. I was childhood Jo,
I craved with no manners; cleaned spoiled water with more water. Now, I am the Jane
Doe I had been looking for, nobody loves you and nobody ever will. Then came Chase
last fall—his tube-lipped nectar tongue. He said I love you sporadically. He was like Ben.
I watched a woman push a dog from a stroller. She was a virgin who married a stripper

and shaved her head halfly bald when the relationship ended. I pressed a stripper
blade on the surface of my belly after the abortion. The snow was warm—Brooklyn
slammed on our apartment door, don’t do it, please, don’t do it. She grew up like Ben-
jamin button; time decelerated as she got older. The father of the dead baby (childhood Jo?)
did not answer on the fourth or third or second ring. He was out chasing—chased—to chase
pavements. A riddle that caused me to weep a puddle, praying for GOD or Saint Jane

to rest her head on my breast. That night followed me year after year, said, Marie Jane?
are you alright? But I had sucked out of me what I had sucked out of me. I called it, stripper
happy. So much can be done with a tool and a man and a paintbrush. Love me like Chase
does, I scribbled on Papier-mâché, Let me be the Irish immigrant in Brooklyn!
All the poems couldn’t bring us closer to that spring.  I took a broom to jo-
ist my back into something more sustainable. I held it in place with a duct tape and a Ben-

jamin Franklin. I bought myself back. Paid what I had been worth. Wrote Ben
a final love letter. It was dressed like a suicided—a farewell, goodbye, Baby Jane.
I felt it in the lining of my throat. Like rotten tar or a bright coloured beacon—a Jo-
ystick. I could be bent and controlled and weakened like this. I heard them, strip'er,
of all her goods. They were on the other side of the one-way mirror. Brooklyn
entangled her fingers with mine, this is how we love now, we want, we want, we chase.

This morning, the grass tickled my tonsil; I could taste it, bitter and raw. I stripped
The walls of my brain. They were colliding years in the shape of rustic red Brooklyn
bricks. I pictured a water stream where things are as real as out of reach—too far to chase.

Téa Mutonji is a Congolese-born writer currently living in Scarborough. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Temz MagazineBad Nudes and The Puritan. Mutonji’s debut collection of short fiction will be the first title published under Vivek Shraya’s newest imprint, VS. Books, in association with Arsenal Pulp Press.