Dad wrestles vinyl up the side of the garage; knuckles
each wobbly white panel into place, tongue and lip
snapping together. I am pumpkin-headed, the October child
plumped on his vine and propped in a crook of mother's
speckled arm. She scoops tangled language in strands
out from me with a spoon, gathers the slippery, spittled
seeds in a bowl. Hollowed to fit some jackolantern's gaze,
a pucker of light seeping through, I trace my smiled corners.
Where the cracked lips fold over a damp pit of skin:
craving scoured into me. I want to swallow back
pudge, wilt and droop, grin bigger and bigger and
fill my mouth again with father. Lean heavy with all that
wants to be said. Butt swung out wide, mom drifts
her hands over the candle's weak heat. She has
propped her carving knife on my tongue. Not one sharp
word compares to this: back and forth, the simple effort.
Mom gathers me together, plops me outside on a pile
of leaves. I leer at my dad, ladder banked against the west
wall, him marking need and sawing off the excess,
crotch of his jeans wagging with something severe
and somehow admirable. Sooner or later, my wick nods low,
jaw slackens from balancing that column of wax plumb,
and I look forward to all the quiet my father and I will not
share, the seeds baked inside him dry and salted and right.
Jeremy Behreandt is an undergraduate student at UW-Eau Claire.