Written by Cameron Calonzo
Edited by Rodlyn Mae-Banting
My father is in a jar on the kitchen counter.
He smells of rotting peaches, nauseatingly sweet,
and sometimes wisps of smoke leak out of the lid.
At night I can hear whining,
high-pitched like a child’s,
sometimes reminiscent of a whistling kettle,
coming from the kitchen.
I’ve started sleeping on the couch
to be closer to him.
(I don’t really sleep. I pretend.)
In my heart, he is dead
and I have killed him.
The knife has been soaking in bleach for years
but I’m starting to think nothing’s happened;
the red looks a shade darker, if anything.
Nothing short of tearing my eyes out of my head
will be enough. Nothing short of
severing my synapses, snipping them clean off
like the stem of a withered orchid.
A void to soothe the inertia.
My grief is not a sudden downpour.
Rather a trickle, slow like honey,
as time creeps by. I hear it dripping off the counter,
the frail, rhythmic splash echoing off the tiled floor, and
I get down on my knees, open my mouth directly
beneath the stream. Lick the grief from my lips,
wincing as it stains my teeth, as it pools
around my ankles. When I try to stand, my legs
stay glued inexorably in place, sticky
and unrelenting, bruised and abrasive.
Now that my eyes are half-dried, he smells more like pickled radishes.
Like sweat and char—the fire barging through the door
and making itself at home. He sounds like smoke alarms,
like minor keys and incessant, restless machines beside
hospital beds. He tastes like blood.
The perfume bottle on the counter with
the crack running through it.
The glass finally empty.