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Hot Time in the Old Town

by: Erin Kautza

Stacked like flapjacks, those buggy months. Only the middle stays hot while I run yellow as butter with raw cats screaming round all my wrists. Do you see what I’m capable of?

Mother, I can snap a smaller spine without squinting. Sweat it.

Forced penance: Filthy potatoes! Mounds. Rot around the bends; rats around the rot. Scoop out sprouted nubs? Done. Flick dumb brown pearls into stock pots? Yep. Fold the burlap, tuck the skirts.

Warming my heart with the wrong hand, eye on dead eye, I promise not to wrap tame animals like ribbon. You let loose my cruelest elbow.

Sucker! Duck, duck your hammy arm. Kick up coal dust. Crab through the kitchen spouting mean kerosene: a ruby-tipped scepter stinking of citronel a. Can’t I be the QUEEN of something? King? Some sort of almost-golden prodigal?

Every shake of your fat pink head costs an heirloom: Ermine stole (not the muff) kinking, red-silk-dining-room-runner, and not a peep from its easy border of gold-thread finches! One doily, two doilies, three. Above, black and white lacquered lines of swim-suited bottoms. Yours on the end like a split-lip balloon, and all those flat rubber caps bubbling for once and for good. See ya peek-a-boo spit curls! Lace-hatted Gram goes up last in oily smoke, gathering skirts just as fast as she can.

Inert bosoms heave their last. You stand sentry stoic, and suddenly, suddenly I too want to be a LADY even under threat of barbecue!