putrefaction

this year, you must prepare early, like a squirrel digging through brush & leaves for the perfect seed to complete your winter stockpile–no more ruminating & waiting until the last moment & scratching quickly in a card with snoopy & woodstock on its cover, i love you, only to realise you’re out of stamps.  but august brought few oak nuts, & october even fewer.  the second week of may, you leave the grocery store with a greeting card, an anthropomorphised cartoon toilet springing from its cover above a cloud of text reading, as dads go…  the inside announces, you really make a big splash!  happy father’s day.  because it makes you nervous, you plan to take it to your next counseling appointment.  you forget to put it in your bag but tell your counselor about it anyway, unable to remember anything but the toilet.  you tell her, it’s terrible & shitty & passive-aggressive, but i can’t send anything else.  the following week you remember it, shoving it quickly into your bag, where it will stay for the next two weeks collecting wrinkles & ink stains, & you & your counselor laugh from your bellies reading it.  that is so passive-aggressive, she says, but i love it.

*

weeks pass.  the card stays forgotten in your bag as a sunflower seed or acorn cap, but you think of its loopy font often, trying to dig up the exact words, & fail.  you kill off every seed that sprouted into a seedling in an egg carton on your windowsill–over-watering, underwatering, & then a final day to scorch the tiny, tender leaves in hot late-may sunlight.  in your garden, two leeks from last season surface, grow tall.  last year’s cat nip overtakes the bed, goes wild.  you pierce two avocado seeds with toothpicks & submerge their bases in mugs of water, allowing the toothpicks to keep the tips hard & dry.  the carton of dead seeds, now disappeared, sits nearby, a reminder of careless, ecstatic, & over-thought blunders.  when the water levels change, you replenish them.  the rest of the time, you wait.

*

one week from father’s day, your conscience gnaws at you like a medium-sized rodent whose winter supply has begun, in early spring before the trees have budded, to sprout.  because the seeds cannot be eaten, the squirrel dreams of conifer cones, green vegetation, ripe grapes, & tiny mushrooms & anticipates cool nights no longer covered in frost.  each time you visit the grocery store, you linger in the card aisle, your eyes glazed as they skim ocean greens & blues, elegant typography that slants & loops elegantly.  promotional sign boards announce, this week: spend $50 on dairy, fresh fruits, and father’s day cards, & earn an extra ten cents off your next gas purchase, as if giving you added incentive to choose another.

*

because you do not wish to dream of your body bulbous with babies, a dried up root that no longer menstruates, you stay awake later & later each night.  still, those dreams find you: your belly inflated like a balloon, your back scorched from the heat of the body that has been cradling you.  in your sleep, you roll from side to side like a barrel spinning in fast water, but you cannot protect your entire body, & so you wake often, forced to compromise: breasts or backside, or hot blanket across your torso & thighs.  when you wake, apply your eyeliner & mascara, & enter the world, your body aches: wrists, lower back, fatty tissue covering your pubic bone.  infection, inflammation–you consider all the options: urinary tract, yeast, vulvodynia, clitorodynia.  you practice on the pages of a yellow legal pad the message you will write: we need to talk, or i can’t apologise anymore for the choices you made, or i wish i didn’t have to send you a card like this, or have a great day; talk to you soon.  then you think to send it blank, to allow him to wonder which estranged child chose to send this & why, or to ignore the holiday altogether.  next, you wonder whether ripped pieces of the card & its blue envelope will break down in your compost bin without infecting the rotting black gold with poisonous inks & waxy chemicals that make the cardstock toilet shine.

*

he disappears, in dreams, by magic or death, the way villains perish in children’s movies.  you wonder if he dreams of you, & if you disappear quiet & easy, too, or if you are a body he must drag by a t-shirt collar into the backyard.  if, again & again, he spends a handful of hours digging a shallow hole, his body slippery with sweat, & then dumps you in the dirt.  whether he returns each day to look upon you, the slow decomposition of your grey-white skin & filmy eyes into a bloated mass of blowfly swarm.  you blister & peel, you liquefy & swell, you green & blacken & leek sulfur-sweet methane rot.  you wonder if & how long this is how you’ve been to him: the stink of a corpse his nose can’t purge, the cacophony of paper-thin translucent wings sprouting from the larvae writhing on her skin.

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