Our Father has his head in his hands, he is weeping into his hands, he is rubbing his eyes with the back of his gloves riddled with fiber glass and wood splinters and mud mud mud and wiping his hands on the backs of his pants that we cannot tell are jeans until much later when our Mother has to cut them off of his legs because they are melted and singed and gristled on his body and he is laughing laughing laughing and weeping weeping, he is weeping when we enter the room. Mother is holding him like a baby, cradling his head on her chest like a frothy infant, they are a uroboros together, wedded in weeping and laughing, they are both weeping and both laughing and speaking softly and Father is filled with soot and ash and smoke and mud and dirt and stink and now Mother’s dress is filled with soot and ash and smoke and mud and dirt and stink and Father’s hair is standing up on end and matted and there is a smell of burnt hair on everything, burnt wood on everything, burnt garbage, sweet like animal flesh, on everything everything. He is yelling now, he is yelling and kicking the blankets on the bed and the sheets are getting dirty and the comforters are dirty and all of the blankets and he is kicking the blankets off the bed and he is soiling every surface, the only clean part of his person are his eyes where he was wearing goggles that could not withstand heat as evidenced by the warp in the middle of them. We are told to go away and to come back and to go away and to get back here by our Father and we shut the bedroom door and take turns putting on the goggles and making faces in the bathroom mirrors, faces with one side completely black, fried, bubbled, uneven, sunken in and shattered.
Katie Jean Shinkle is Managing Editor of Del Sol Press, Assistant Poetry Editor for DIAGRAM and current Nonfiction Editor of Black Warrior Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Journal, Staccato Fiction, dislocate and BlazeVOX, among others.