We want to share the stories you’ve been told not to tell.
June 6, 2018 >
by Jamie Houghton
ANYONE, AT ANY TIME, MIGHT BURST INTO FLAMES OR DROWN
My mother is terrified of chimney fires, the smell of gas, explosions, switches. In case of lightning move away from all windows unplug everything, DO NOT SHOWER. Light the oil lamps. Do not fall in the brook do not drive the snowmobile over ice. She is a whistle. Her voice rakes the day into a tight, coiled pile of tinder waiting for a match. She said of the three sisters I am the most talented but on the field didn’t have a competitive bone in my body. To go to war every day against my nature. Remember how she keeps orchids alive through winter bunching them all together on the kitchen table with heat lamps. Red, pink, foamy white, she dips their roots in water one by one polishes their leaves with milk so the pores expand take in more sun. She feels they quiver in thanks and that no one believes her.
Special skills include knowing how to go through the gate not over, under or around. Whichever one is open. Excels at handling unstable people and difficult ingredients. Takes full responsibility for any broken flatware. Can carry a shot glass on head. Will cook liver paste for wounded dogs. Can be your ride to a funeral. Will drive getaway car small to medium crimes only. Will cut your hair but probably shouldn’t. Can drive with knees. Specializes in sympathetic throat humming. Can walk on eggshells. Probably shouldn’t. Will work for sunshine. Will work through darkness. Will become motor. Will travel.
Jamie Houghton is a poet, musician and teaching artist. Her poetry chapbook, "Burn Site in Bloom," was released by Musehick Publications in 2017.