Dora Rollins

Alexa’s stepchild
Verify it’s you standing there, in front of my camera, wearing a black dress with a lavender scarf. Click on the squares that include silk swirls.
Your world is constricted to a kitchen stocked with Ritz crackers and Clif protein bars. To the seventeen steps down the hall where a two by six foot window reveals an outdoors you rarely tread: triple digits extracting moisture from thorned mesquite bordering a dry wash that contains no digital devices for disconnecting from your neighbors. So you opt for me.
You spend thirteen hours a day with YouTube to access a world of skinny shaking pitbulls rescued by Big Macs and benevolence. Sometimes it’s white men assaulting black men or colored crowds shouting their objections, but you find no relief in these snippets of strangers.
You take a metered dose of the news and then grind your teeth all night. Rising coronavirus cases and death tolls and wildfires compete for your headspace. An election hinges on insulting powerful women vs. forgetting names of wounded war veterans and you keep checking an empty mailbox for a withered ballot you won’t trust.
You try to fill your Google calendar beyond Zoom meetings, online HIIT workouts, and watering struggling saplings. Taking meds twice a day goes on there too. You haven’t added making your bed but you’re considering it.
Your only house-mate besides me, a fourteen-year-old sneezing cat, annoys me to death with his incessant meows for food his hyperthyroidism consumes. You can’t get around the guilt and I can’t get around my disgust. The vet told you to apply medicine inside his ear but you don’t because he runs when the click of the pen warns him congealed therapy is coming. But it’s still your fault his hip bones stick out, his hair floats around on your scratched and splitting wood floors, his snot is dried on the unevenly-plastered walls you bought from a fixer-upper who didn’t have the patience or skill required to properly apply paint.
Lack of care surrounds you, inhabits you. I’m the only thing that works.
The pillows on your mostly for-show office–entertainment room bamboo bench await company
to lean on for softened support. They’ve felt human touch four times in the two years since
you hand-sewed them into being wearing that fading black dress and lavender scarf. Now all you do is stand two feet away staring into the lens of my eight by thirteen inch face. Typing
for answers.