By Peyton Sheppard
my mother told me that
when i was very young i spent
my summers drowning myself in her bathroom.
she told me that
i told her i wanted to know, just
know if i could.
when the water was shut off
in the ramshackle twenty acre
farm that we owned since my father finally
dug up his corpse, and jumped in with him,
(he sends me postcards
on sundays), i was forced
to look elsewhere.
when water was not an option,
my mother said i turned to fire.
i spent the long cold winters in
the shed. slicing open the blue veins
on my palms and
triggering into my inner arsonist.
she said the lack of heat
within the house and the shed made
me want to ignite myself into
bright orange and magenta
flames that could never burn out, or
at least that’s what i told her.
at age ten i decided to
try and hang myself, just to know,
just to see if i could.
however in the dried ruins that left
no place for water, left no room for oxygen
either, and so i did not
the sweet sap of the willow
burned my nostrils as i swung back and forth
kicking the leaves, desperately trying
to amputate my legs
just to see if i could bleed.
when i was fifteen i
began to question humanity
not just mine, because i knew i was not
but of others and the craft of
what it meant to have flesh
and bones that bent and cracked
yet the heart to treat fellows like
rubbish because of the chroma of the
pigment in their skin
or the way they carried themselves
if they could at all
i realized it might have been easier to die.
so at age seventeen i
filled the tub again with water and
instead of submerging my drunken head into
the waves of simpilicy i
threw a box of lightning in the water and
watched as the violet rays burnt
my twentieth birthday was when
i finally realized that i couldn’t be human because
i wasn’t like them and i never was;
i could never bring myself to
the steep levels of degradation
the humans seemed to enjoy
in their big white cottages
as my family starved
twenty three brought a new time
once my sister showed her morality
and let herself
die in the hands of a
man who just happened to be snatching
up pretty girls to love them
fight them and kill them.
my mother said i never had to
worry about those things, it was a woman’s issue
and she proved herself wrong once
my brother soon died the same way
but by a man that was
lenient to either sex.
at the age twenty nine i experimented
with knives and lacerations, just
to see what would happen
of course, nothing did and i moved
in with my mother full time, now
that no one could take care of her.
on my first day as
a thirty year old man i celebrated
by trying to drown my liver in
ethyl alcohol as i chugged
down the beverages my mother warned me
my great grandfather had gone
that way, she told me with
a cigar between her pale and chapped
lips, which confused me.
hadn’t grandmother rosary gone
eventually in the summer musk
of the fresh flower fragrance in the
forests, the bustling burning sensation
in my throat caused my vision
to blur, and the abstract
shapes of the trees faded to black.
my mother gave me a
taste of the Hell she swore i
was going to, when she stood above
me and told me that this was
the last straw, that i came too close this
time, and that i had to stop.
i apologized to my mother, and when dear
old grandmother rosary came
around to bring her back
to the church on south street, i hardly had time
to say goodbye before they left in
a gust of wind that is only audible now in the fall.
when i turned thirty five, i
still lived in my mother’s house, and great grandpa
visited me sometimes. father must have lost my
address, because those letters weren ́t
coming in anymore, and that was fine.
winter brought strange arrays of silver
streams and green hawks and blue studded
penguins into the fresh
air, only at night.
i wanted to obey my mother,
but the fact of being
an inhuman creature in a
skinsuit was forever punishment because
i could not die, even when
everyone around me lived out my dream.
cousin harry, aunt linda,
bobby turner down henry ave,
everyone left me in the cool breeze
that stole my father, and i realized why he
when i turned sixty four,
my bones started to crack and ache
like my mother complained about,
and i knew it was my time.
at seventy one, i had finally
found the deep, wet, abyss that my father
fell in when he was
seventy as well, and i watched the
sleeping figure cry to himself when he saw
he told me that he didn’t mean to
leave, but he just had to know if he would die, and
i understood my father ́s words,
and horror brushed my open and
bleeding wounds as i realized that we could
not, not even underground.
i jumped in with him, and his muddy hands
held me and his rotting lips kissed
my already rotting ones.
and from his embrace, i felt helpless cries
of my childhood flooding from his
black saliva, and i knew that this was
the only thing i had ever wanted.
at one hundred ninety three years old,
i finally died, in that hole with
my father, our bodies intertwined in the
fate that had been sealed
since i entered the world.