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Atlas & Alice | Issue 5, Winter 2015/2016

peas and cabbage. Sometimes I’d look up from peas grown round as green ovaries and watch the pale flaps of my mom’s inner thighs secrete a stale jelly. I saw that the freckles on her arms were growing darker as the sun leered lower later in the morning. I saw that both she and the sun were well on their way to dying just as I reached the end of the row and needed to start another. Just keep working, she told me. I picked all the pods looking swollen to bursting, oblong cysts so pregnant with disease I hardly needed to pull them, only wait for them to rain on top of me. And sliding my fingernail down a moist pod spine, letting each pea plop into a bowl on our back porch swing, I dreamt of coolness while looking toward the freezer sitting a few feet from where we were shelling peas. I let my dog lick salt pooling between my toes like silt along a shoal tapering into nothing. The rabbits, my mom lamented, ate more from our garden each evening. There was less for picking today than yesterday, and this world, I thought, is not for us, Mommy. The rabbits are chewing all the peas, so best we make our exit now before they chew us all into middens. And sweating on this porch swing, we’re as wet as fish already flying into a whale’s rictus. Let me take us to the cooling place before this life turns hot as a furnace. Only the cooler’s not big enough for both of us, so we’ll have to drown ourselves inside a lake cool to freezing. You’ll have to take both your hands from the steering wheel while unfastening one or two stray rollers you leave in your hair each morning. You’ll have to unpin one as we approach a lake large enough to hold both our bodies. You’ll have to do this while driving me to kindergarten as I sit in the backseat loosening my shoelaces. Once drowned, I’ll unroll my window and slip through its lacuna. An eel raging with tangerine electricity will sift past me, and I’ll grasp its tail while its fins fan themselves like silver-skinned geishas. You’ll clasp my ankle, Mommy, and we’ll become knotted, you, the eel, and I connected. With the contraction of a single muscle, the eel will wrench you through the half-open window then pull us both through a subaqueous tornado, until we fall weightless upon sand pulsing like a heart distended, until the eel attenuates into the tail of a kite against a waterborne firmament. Until the darkness encases us beneath a woolen blanket. In the meantime, I tried to stop breathing in the bathtub while Barbie astronaut floated up between my knees. I tried but couldn’t, so I knew we’d have to find a lake when we left for town to buy milk and packets of wild flower seeds. I decided on the end as soon as I knew an end was coming so I would not drown along the way without my mom beside me. Because that would always be the danger, drowning while living. She told me there was no need to escape, honey, that God was infinite, in this life and the one coming after it. She said we could not escape God’s love and we

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Atlas and Alice - Issue 5  

Winter 2015/2016

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