Mudlark No. 40 (2010)

The Burning Door


The year I lost my aura I stood still, like a mirror
in an empty room—that is, until my father barged in
and gathered up my clothes as though he meant to give them
to the boy who looked like me, outside on the street,
naked. Ask him if he’s eaten, my mother 
called out from the kitchen as she chopped up the small hands 
she’d gathered from the garden, for soup. And I forgot myself
for a moment, because the cat had rubbed against my leg
and my pants had sparked up static. Open the door
and let him out, darling. That was my old man
calling to my mother in the kitchen to free
their other child, the dark one. Soon it would be over,
I knew that, sitting there, and then we’d be forgotten—
like a bird in the oven or an antler in a tree 
in the suburbs when it’s snowing. Give me your hand, 
they sang while I took a long bubble bath that evening, 
they leaned against the locked door and listened to me wash. 
The water was too hot, and somehow there were minnows 
nibbling my body with bites that felt so lovely
I thought they might leave vivid scars, and so I let them feast.

Michael Hettich | Mudlark No. 40 (2010)
Contents | The Burning Door VI