Deb’s suicide went unnoticed for three days
because Gary was in Utah on business and Jasmine
was at her Nan’s manipulating cookie dough
with her five-year-old fingers.
When Gary got home things were flimsy,
filmed over after soaring hard in the sky
and drinking midget-sized bottles of alcohol.
He clinked two bottles at a time, stowing
them in the pocket of the seat in front of him,
pretending they never existed in the first place.
It was the smell that took him. Here he was,
rumpled like a bill in a stripper’s bra, stinking
of sweat and Janette, the morbidly plump
lady who sat next to him on the plane
and was in route to visit her dying brother.
And instead of rubbing his fingers
together, wondering if the grime
could seep straight to his heart,
he was met with the metallic
slice of his wife’s dried blood.
Some of it was still wet.
Like the puddle that coagulated
at Deb’s breasts. She soaked
in the tub, submerged like stones
Gary would throw in Lake Verona
during summers at Uncle Larry’s,
summers spent hiding under covers,
hoping his door stayed shut at night.
And now Deb’s fish eyes stared at him,
accusing him of not knowing, of not calling
for three days because he didn’t want
to fight again. Death at his shins,
drowned neat in a bath and nothing
he could do about it.
Later when Jasmine would ask
about her mother, Gary wouldn’t answer.
Instead, he would talk of Nan, of gripping
balls of sugared cookie dough, goading
his daughter until she said the things
he needed to hear.
© 2010-2013 Ericka Clay All Rights Reserved