Man Finds 6-Month-Old Grandson's Coffin Floating in Water
Imperceptible waves slapped the side of the reed-ribboned basket, lulled the future prophet, divider of seas, to sleep, unaware of his certain death at the hands of violent men, rescued by willowy ladies, mortals disguised as Goddesses, who sprinkled him with drops of water from the Nile, made magic by crocodile blood, snake venom and the carcasses of unfortunate porcupines. Metamorphosed him into one of their own.
My life was colored with cobalt blue, bloodstone red, simple white and simpler black. I suffered no hardships, fought in no wars, imagined no tragedies, refused to exchange money for two hour movies about those who mourn the dead. I marked the calendar, June 13 2020, the day I would take my grandson fishing. Named after me, a solid name, not like marble that is carved into angels, Greek Goddesses, tiny impossible tombstones.
I had plans for that child, carried the certainty of his future hands, the fishing pole of my childhood, the sacrificial worms, the way he would lean back to look all the way up into my wrinkled, joyful face. No doubt that he would catch a catfish, the old one that hides when boats arrive would be charmed by this boy, ensnared on his hook. No doubt I would teach him the art of gutting, scaling, extracting the bones and savoring the flesh.
When Orpheus, who charmed all manner of stone with poetry and music, traveled the River Styx to rescue his mortal wife from the slathering jaws of Cerberus, the tortuous monotony of underworld existence, all that was required was unwavering trust in the keeper of the crypt, the disgruntled, jealous immortal who savored the tears of the living and the dead. All he had to do was to keep his eyes forward, to never look back.
We should have known the alien ship was hovering
above the house, should have guessed they would choose
this dilapidated structure to invade and impregnate our pets, should have believed
the dogs were whimpering at more than their own fat shadows.
You might have warned me about the humming in your ears all week, might have
why half the forsythia bush was blooming while the other half
faltered, might have remembered that you left your shoes by your bed not outside
where you found them this morning. I could have asked you
why the sky colors were upside down the whole drive here, could have believed
the radio voices telling tales of missing children, overturned bicycles, could have made
turn into the liquor store parking lot and armed us for the journey ahead.
Beth Gordon is a writer who lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her MFA from American University a long time ago. Her work has recently appeared in Into the Void, Calamus Journal, Slink Chunk Press, Five:2:One, Barzakh and others.