One of Us A sucker-punch thought, we will end. The assault turns into a cold sweat from the contours of my couch. One day we might fight over the over-due mortgage, you promised to pay. The dent in the new hallway’s paint, I never denied. Who keeps the dog when we sell the house? We fought the morning a bus crashed into the glass store. The highway exit was blocked and first responders’ lights spun. I read on my phone that no one’s hurt and we held hands the drive home. What if we’d decided to replace the glass in the tv stand an hour earlier. The first time I wrote this you sat next to me on the couch. TV commentaries must-know insight, scores on your phone, notes for a fantasy, but you won’t remember this morning as anything distinguishable from the other bubble-gum memories wadded in your head. **
Find Joy, Tell Her She’s Wrong I believe I struggle to write because of the vacuum encaged in my ribs is filled by anxiety air thick as pudding pink as pills. I think I lack subjectivity (and objectivity) because most days I see cracked-gray skies rotted dirt and branches days away from dust. I’m told it’s a lovely day by pink-cheek neighbors who see the world as a God-given playground. They say go before my tongue tsks, tsks away their golden sun artificial turf outdoor brick barbeques and they too are stricken with the clogged chest vacuums the head-disconnections without the cold medicine and their lives are drained of color. I measure how thick the air feels. Today I can’t move beyond the nook of my couch. **
Tall Grass in the Livingroom Aunt Winnie’s oil painting hangs over the electric fireplace. When I was a child it hung over my parents’ hearth. I watched it for hours. I fished from a rowboat with the boys in a cove framed in golden wood. The artist was my grandma’s twin. She painted it for their mom who passed the brushwork to my mom. When I was in college Grandma gave Mom a second painting, three boys, fishing poles, a red barn. When I married and settled in my house, she gifted me the scenes. Aunt Winnie painted the barn, then the cove, because they asked for an order. I believe the boys in her work are the boys walking past the barn with fishing poles to the cove where the rowboat waits. I believe but I don’t know. I can only see their backs by the barn, and they’re too far away in the boat. I can’t see the noses, bug bites, untied shoes, or bare feet, and I can’t ask the artist.
Kathryn V. Jacopi, an adjunct professor, received her MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University. Her writings have appeared in Pudding Magazine, Statorec, Fjord, Manzano Mountain Review, and Drunk Monkeys. Kathryn’s poem received first place for the 2016 Hysteria Writing Competition. When she’s not reading, writing, and lesson planning, Kathryn’s either kayaking or enjoying her spouse’s fantastic cooking. This is Kathryn’s first publication in Fictional Café.