When they tell me, I am twelve, locked out on the porch with my sister, as if snapping shut the dead-bolt will suddenly make us deaf. Cross-legged on the top step, a sharp thud shatters our silence, I feel her hand push inside of mine. An hour later, back inside, my mother is pushing groceries into cabinets and drawers. The culprit, a can of sliced peaches in heavy syrup, that she threw at him, lying on its side, below a crescent-shaped scar in the wall, bent over in a crumpled sigh. I place it in the cabinet, between fancy peas and pineapple chunks, wonder if now some peaches are squishing up against each other to avoid this intrusion, denting in on them in the darkness of their liquid house. If I throw myself against the wall, will you pick me up and place me, aching, next to the green beans and sweet corn? With no hand to hold this time, and no one helping, my father is on his knees, packing books and clothes into boxes.
Published on Dec 9, 2010