Parents, please keep your children with you at all times. Do not allow your children to play in the aisles or on the stairs.
-regular announcement on the Orange County commuter line
The ticket man on life’s fast train
doesn’t need to tell you this.
Escaping is the tricky bit,
scraping the barnacle off your tit
long enough to step in the tub.
Milk seeps out when you bend
to twist the taps, all your juices
course towards him.
The umbilical tug, the plug
pulled out of a drain in your gut
sucks down your life until now
in a spiral of nausea and tears.
With you when he takes his square
on the alphabet rug, face lettered
with shadows only you can read.
With you when hormones explode
the tot tender with milk and wonder
into a heavy-lidded, taciturn threat.
With you when he skateboards or skis
into fifteen’s ghastly labyrinth
and the door clicks shut.
He wrung his life out of your clay
but seeped into all that he left
so now when he wrestles the devil
for his soul
and totes the whole kit
away from you,
your doors slide apart,
your bones and blood’s
and still he is
halved and doubled
both at once.
Sharon Kunde grew up in a small town in northern Illinois. Since then, she has lived, taught, and studied in Boston, Albania, Mongolia, New York City, and Los Angeles. She is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Irvine. Her dissertation, for which she was recently awarded an ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, proposes a posthumanist reframing of the traditional American Transcendentalist canon. Her stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Deep Water, Spoon River Poetry Review,Midwestern Gothic, Hotel Amerika, Foothill, cold-drill, and others. Her thoughts on hiking, relationality, embodiment, and the more-than-human can be found on her blog, Throughhike: Down in the Dirt of the California Backcountry (throughhike.wordpress.com). She lives in Altadena, California with her husband and two sons.