The Kitchen is a Place in Me
Kira Gresoski, 2019
Love, like all the things I know to do with my hands,
is an art of careful layering. Like making a sandwich.
Or fetching my Papa a Claussen pickle when he’s dying
of cancer on hospice care in the living room. Even though
he’s stopped talking, and the words he once spoke have
migrated to his eyes, (which burn so brightly they startle
me more than the bones that dig like spoons through his skin)
he still craves that electric shock: of sour, seed, and crunch.
First, he flaps his hands and hums to let us know he’s wanting.
Then he raises a skeletal finger and points to the Claussen
I’m eating. His mouth ajar like a baby bird’s, Grandma mists his
throat with a spray bottle to help him swallow. This was his idea,
she boasts, bragging for the genius of his mind the way he would.
She waters the mouth she’s kissed a lifetime the way she would
a houseplant. Nothing left to do in marriage but become the rain,
that eternal nurse. I relish this last layer of love, prying the jar
open. I untwist the puckered lid that pops like the valve of a heart,
and bring him a dying wish, the briny flesh bursting into a green
vinegar river down his chin, his eyelids fluttering shut.