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, elephant-colored 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, longways, 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.