“Portrait of the Mundane” by Jake Bailey

A friend once
told me that,
though water
can hold a body
like memory, feet
are not meant
to float alone.
The first time
I met God, I was
draped in a rough,
bathrobe, worn soles
on my slippers.
I used to drink while
doing the dishes in
the summer so
I could forget
what it’s like
to have a body
or a sun
slowly peeking
around corners
of kitchen windows.
Burnt signal that another
day had left and I was
simply another drunk
looking for signs
in the bottom
of a Solo cup.
Because I’d let
the pungent aroma
waft the rafters
of the house
a day or two too long
(or a week),
a candle lay
burning next
to the stove,
a beacon
for those who eat
every meal out,
but always
bring it home.
I trudged
through plate
after plate,
knife after knife,
losing my grip
until I dropped a cup
into emptying sink,
shattered stupor
of my libations
and thoughts
exploding over stains
that won’t come out.
In a year or so
from this moment
my wife will leave me
for a man almost
three times my age.
In a year or so,
I will try to snuff out
whatever candles
I had placed
around the kitchen
with a twisted
telephone cord.
I went to pick up
the remnants
and sliced my hand
open sideways,
each piece asking
to be remembered
by touch one last time
like a whisper
too tired to care.
I zipped my hand up
with a napkin,
drifted toward the den,
stopping at a candle
that had burned
far too long
and would take a while
to catch fire again,
snuffing it out
to see the ways
a bush can burn
without losing itself.
Where Moses
removed his shoes.
The ghost unshed
itself into a spiral
calling forth
a prayer
I still cannot say.
But my feet
are far too dirty.
Like the places
I have been.
Like the same slippers
tucked beneath my bed
that make me imagine
I will still be
cold tomorrow.

Jake Bailey is a schiZotypal experientialist with work in The American Journal of Poetry, Diode Poetry Journal, Palette Poetry, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Jake received his MFA from Antioch University, Los Angeles. He lives in Illinois with his wife and their three dogs. Find him on Twitter (@SaintJakeowitz) and at saintjakeowitz.xyz.

Featured Photo by Helen Doremus.