Peeling Shrimp with JD
Your niece’s house burned down on the coldest day of the year, the same
year you ate rattlesnake without knowing, and wished they never told you,
wished you did not understand the source of fire in your gut. Tonight
we are peeling shrimp and do not discuss the details of their death,
removing the heads and tails. The antennae make you shudder and I can’t
look into their crisp black eyes.
After they sifted through ashes of wedding bouquets and salvaged the guest
bedroom furniture from the furthest corner, they moved into your sister’s
house to get back on their feet, lived on next year’s Christmas account and spare
change until the insurance money arrived. You slice a lemon and squeeze
juice across boiled flesh.
Last year you sold your childhood home, walked away from lawns and smoke
alarms forever, paid the final installment on your burial plot, and gave your niece
a wash tub, the one your mother carried from Mississippi to La Rochelle
France, where she filled it with cool water, set it on the porch to collect morning
sun, and you floated in warmth. Not knowing that you would tell me this story
while swallowing our murders.
Beth Gordon has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri, for 17 years but dreams of oceans, daily. Her work has appeared in Into the Void, Verity La, Quail Bell, Calamus Journal, decomP and others. She can be found on Twitter @bethgordonpoet.