Issue 3: May 15 2018
Cover Art by Abigail Bonnanzio
She who sits at her kitchen table across from her mother who has flown in for the birth of this child; who hears her mother’s rattled shaky cough, a chesty, phlegmy obstruction that sounds like guns popping as her mother’s face turns red; she who gets up to fill a glass of water, to find the tissue box (which is empty because her household just finished a round of colds); she who passes her mother a torn paper towel instead, who lets the water run cold so that it will refresh as it pushes back against the nagging cough, but really she who stands at the sink doesn’t want to watch her mother spitting up the phlegm into the napkin, horking and gagging to battle against this cough which has probably been lingering for months. She who doesn’t look, does not have to see.
He scarcely noticed when they left, his wife quietly closing the bedroom door, allowing the screen-door to settle back into its frame with a tiny even hiss. The sound of their car rounded the driveway and the far side of the house, then disappeared. The room was silent. Though the pain in his arms and legs had faded a little, the sickness remained, unshakable and sticky-sweet as a shower of summer rain.
The Watson-Crick model of DNA structure was a revolution. I still remember learning about it as a graduate student. In my imagination, the model looked as if musicians had figured out how to spin narrow staves into two spiral strands and play a tune in duplicate. The twisted ladder of our genetic material seemed simple enough. It was beautiful.
It happened a long time ago. So long ago in fact that the details need to be hauled up from the deepest well of memory—one at a time. Who was older? Who was younger? Who led? Who followed? There were three of us in the pool. It was late and dark and there was no moon that night. We had scaled the fence between houses. We shed our clothes and slipped into the neighbor’s big round pool. Naked. Innocent. We didn’t think about our nakedness, our bodies. Our hands and legs became a tangle; an arm brushed against a breast, a foot found a buttock. We were free. The neighbor’s blue vinyl pool was our paradise, our octopus’s garden in the sea.