by Clara Sperow
the homemade house
The big bag of chocolate chips sits on top of the fridge. They reach tiny sticky hands inside.
It’s her turn to take out the compost.
Do you want to hold this chicken? Sometimes I flirt with boys because I feel sad for them.
Bedtime comes like a tidal wave. Will you read me another book? Will you read me Hope for the Flowers?
Do you know that you are still a caterpillar? Do I know? Does eating leaves and crawling feel like enough?
Homemade handmade wooden beds and kitchen table and bread. Pans hang from the ceiling. Dad’s newly printed photos on the wall in place of a TV.
Women in our family are hairy. That’s why there’s wax in the bathroom. Can we go to the library again?
We can walk there, if you want. But will you bring a jacket?
We drive half the way. Walk the rest.
This house used to be covered in Halloween decorations. But they weren’t scary. I wasn’t scared.
She runs fast down the sidewalk. Don’t go past the corner. I want to reach out and hold her hand when she crosses the street but I don’t want her to imagine fear.
This is her apartment. Are we early? What time is it? Okay, let’s go up the stairs.
Do you want to come in? My ceiling fell in last year. But look at the view. I talked to someone last week who said they only understand dogs, not people. I think I only understand children. I know the front of the building looks ugly but look at the view.
I look at the rooftops. The streets mirror the train table back in the living room.
I walk back to the car alone. Look both ways before crossing the street.
the magic box
I don’t want to be famous.
When I was her age, I did. Sometimes I think I still do.
How would you feel if it only rained raisins?
Okay, my turn. What would you do if you could only shower in yogurt?
She climbs onto the counter.
We might have to use our hands.
I watch her stick her fingers into the bowl of peanut butter and powdered sugar.
What do you do when you leave?
I finished my story. In it I find a magic box that lets you travel to whatever age and time you want. So I turn into a baby.
Sourdough starter starts to bubble in the glass bowl. Grandma’s kitchen and grandma’s starter. Family dinners covered in a thick layer of butter.
Kombucha brews next to futon. A piece of friend’s kitchen. Living things from the living that whisper you are loved.
Worms wiggle in backyard bin.
They just love the rotten sweet potato.
The spider stays in one place on the wall.
Maybe it died.
Standing up? Standing... horizontal?
Ants crawl across the floor.
Maybe they are cold. Maybe their homes are flooded.
Condensation coats insides of windows. Outsides of lace curtains.
The light forms and separates on the backs of my eyelids like oil and water.
The cat sticks her face in my mug of honey lavender kombucha.
I am handing out pieces of myself like pamphlets.
Here, let me read you Dandelion Wine. This chapter is about lime-vanilla ice and falling in love.