I AM NOT A KNOWABLE THING after Joan Didion on Georgia O’Keeffe
but bottles tossed into the air and shot by Claudia. no star memorialized in watercolor but still a disappearance on the horizon, a slip from fingers after being drained and dropped into a sack, slung over a shoulder at dusk.
it is hardness I seek, the certain translucence of glass so I remember what it is to be sand. not unlovable but its opposite: wholeness through opening, the rough rip that says I am.
so I am seeking bullets, I am looking to explode against the sky, refract that last light of day as I tumble toward dirt, into the earth that made me without judgment, back to her wish that I become whatever it is I think I am.
WE ARE ON VACATION BUT THE BIRDS + OUR DEAD GRANDMOTHER KEEP SPEAKING TO HIM the kitchen shears are still in the drawer, tucked among spoons and forks, the odd chopstick and chipped quarter cup. my throat
catches at the sight, body freezes, dishtowel in hand. alone in this small room, i feel the quiet all around. the lake is glacial, the loons lonely this evening, long gaps between their calls. upstairs my mother's mattress is stuffed with knives i secreted by the fistful as she lured my brother to the porch, offered him the sunset. the shears
stare up at me, serrated and unafraid. i wonder what else i've failed to notice.
ONE WAY OF LOOKING AT MY MOTHER i want you to hear the quiet of this house perched on the hill, old and barn red and leaning.
hear the trees, the thin rustle of dead leaves left on branches. only the straggler birds remain, only their occasional call.
can you see my mother? she has her back to us, rust-colored coat pulled tight around. her legs are long, her throat slim, her eyes glance over shoulder, squint for the road. no firetruck yet.
she turns back. she does not think much has changed since she first saw smoke slip from the wall around the chimney.
hands to the plaster confirmed too much heat so she listened up the stairs: silence. in the kitchen, she picked up the phone, dialed for help, then quietly put on her shoes, pulled a jacket from the hook, went out the back door to wait. years later, she explained I was a difficult baby. it was hard to get me to sleep.
-- Rachel Fiske Reynolds teaches middle school. They are a Best of the Net nominee and their work has appeared with Red Rock Review, Liminalities, Faultline, Duende, the Nervous Breakdown, VICE, and more.