I’ll Remember His Phlegm Sample Next Time
Sinkhole: a cavity in the ground, especially in a limestone
formation, caused by water erosion and providing a route
for surface water to disappear underground. (Oxford Dictionary)
We are 37 minutes late my love, so can you please pick up
the little pieces of plastic and jump in your car seat quick
like a bunny? Oh God, I hear it buzzing. My purse is a disaster.
Hold on, mommy’s looking for it. It’s probably the clinic calling.
The clinic, I said! Hello? (Shhh, I’m on the phone). Yes, this
is his mother. Oh, hi, Helen. Yes, I’m hyper aware that we are
hemispheres and light years beyond “late” for his appointment.
There’s been an accident. My kidneys caught fire as the side
mirror shattered. That’s right, one of those days, ha, ha. Yes,
I’m also aware the exact same thing happened last week. Come
again? Your vagina ate ants off the rug this morning? I’m sorry.
I could have sworn you – next Monday sounds fine, thank you.
I’ll remember his phlegm sample next time, and that form,
which must be completed during a partial solar eclipse
in turquoise sea hare ink. I’m so sorry I keep forgetting it.
It’s just that I’ve begun to fear the night. It comes like junk
mail, relentless as news of the apocalypse. Are there any
supplements I could give him that might help me with that?
Last week in the waiting room I had a fantasy about the mother
with the under-eye circles who speaks Spanish to her youngest.
You know the one, Helen: hair like polished obsidian, faint
threads of gray at the temples. It involved argan oil and scalding
steam and someone who definitely wasn’t her husband. He’s
asleep in his car seat, why do you ask? Oh, I’m soooo sorry
to keep you from your work. Only I’m certain the instant
I stop talking, tree roots thick as sausages will sprout from
my mouth, or, no. No. You wouldn’t understand, would you,
Helen? You’re not in the business of understanding. You’re
in the business of – my husband? He won’t answer when he’s
at work. Helen, you’re breaking up. No, I think it’s on my end.
It’s all static and crackle. I hear a rumbling sound like a blue
whale approaching. I can feel it… in my chest. My God, the car
is shaking. Helen, can you hear me?! I think we’re sinking,
I think we’re – we’re – falling! I’ve hurt my neck, Helen!
Just listen to me, Helen, get ahold of your self, God damn it,
Helen, just hang up and –
Geneviève Paiement is a Montreal-born, Toronto-based journalist turned poet. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, the Guardian (UK), Salon.com, Vice and elsewhere.