The butter's always cold. Would you know anything about that? Living with no one to set it out on the counter? Living without reason to turn on the stove? Father called last week, said he's coming to the city. Said he wouldn't mind stopping by for supper. I said I was out of town that weekend, damn the luck, maybe next time, tell mom I said, Hi.
I'm not altogether a liar, not if you know. I'm "in town" but out of the house, out of myself, indisposed for certain. See there's this split that happens when I walk through my front door. A piece of floss slices off the top of my head like a hunk of camembert. My mind slips right out and pouts on the porch, maybe drifts near the lawn, I don't know exactly. But it's not in that house. My body might take off it's shoes, take a piss, sleep in a chair, but my mind isn't with it. Not waiting for the alarm to go off. Not showering, not dressing for work. When my body can finally step back into the outside air, myself slides back into myself. The top of my head returns and I'm closer to whole again.
If you think you're confused, think about me! Think what Dad will think! Even if we meet at a café, not that he'd settle for that, but even if he did - say he curbed his curiosity about the state of my home - there's no way I could sit across from him without his noticing the separation. I'm not altogether a bad guy but people wonder when they stare at me too long, I can tell, I can see them doubting. Wondering where Shelly's been, inviting us to dinner, flashing pity when I decline, You're so thin these days, send our love to the missus. Seems no one can live unbothered without her around.
Five weeks without a call from Shelly and Mom's so obviously on the verge of a fit. The nerve in sending dad to dig his nose into my business. You'd think Shelly was their daughter, not their sons' wife, who until recently was sneaking around with some twerp from the office, telling their son not to worry, but of course a husband worries. Well, I found out eventually. I'm no chump, at least not for long.
Truth be told the butter went cold before the Big Fight. She had stopped eating at home. Had stopped cooking for me. She was out there somewhere, shopping around, I bet. Till she found him. Then the dining with him, the drinking with him, the you-know-whating him. What was I supposed to do?
You know, there used to be a reason to bake bread, peel oranges, carve the tops off strawberries, arrange little platters for two. Now I leave the greens on, eat the berries whole. No longer need for heat, no longer need for knife. The smell in that house makes my stomach turn. I've taken to swallowing my dinner while leaning against the driver-side door. I shove entire fruits into my trap, half-hoping someone finds me lying on the concrete some afternoon. The telling scent of fruit so ripe it's gone sour, steaming out of my mouth.
lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Her poetry is forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, West Trade Review
. She is a poetry editor for Variant Literature
. You can find her on Twitter @mgnchols