The big thing
There were always red things in mom’s kitchen.
There was that oven mitt with a hole in the thumb,
There was that chicken poster with some chicken pun written on it,
Something I can’t even remember now,
But I remember the red – always red.
Red pasta sauce. Red stripes on my mom’s apron
Red blood dripped across the white tile floor
When the neighbor’s Pitbull bit my dad’s hand.
I heard it happen on the circular driveway from my bedroom window.
The dog had attacked him just because dogs bite
And I remember thinking there was no sense in it.
I remember wishing I could understand.
Recently, a teacher told me Neosporin doesn’t smell like anything.
She wrote it in the margins of my story.
She said “why did it smell?”
And I thought it was funny she put it that way – “why?”
I don’t know why, but it does to me.
It smells like clean and medicine.
Like hospital and starched sheets,
Like Aloe Vera and scentless Chapstick.
There’s something to it.
And it always makes me think of that moment when I rushed downstairs and saw the blood trailed along the tile to the kitchen sink.
My mom crying over his hand, like hands were the most important thing.
And in my house they kind of were.
Something to hold, kiss, cook with.
Something that worked,
Not just did the work, but always seemed to function properly when other things so easily fell apart.
Now, I find myself thinking “at least I have my hands”
What could I do without them?
My family taught me that.
My family had taught me a lot at that point
But not the big thing.
The big thing was unimaginable.
It was as unusual as blood on the tile on a Saturday morning.
And when the big thing came,
There was no blood.
His hands looked strong,
more capable then they had when he was bit.
And I thought, how can it be?
I stared at his hands, vascular, callused, hairy.
Fingers I loved to play with, nailbeds I’d run my own fingertips across.
When I realized I was afraid now to touch them
Was when I understood the big thing.
I held my mom’s hand, pressed my fingertips into her palm,
And I thought of the color red,
The color of life and shock and stop signs,
and I hoped our hands could be enough.
In the bones of a rose are the shapes of women.
Run a thumb over the veins of a petal to read their history.
Their mistakes, their suffering, their joys.
But no one can speak rose,
And so, the history is secret.
All of it locked in code so we have to learn again.
Maybe that’s why men are supposed to bring us roses--
To taunt us with what we wish we knew about beauty,
No one ever brings me roses.
Daisies, lilies, sunflowers.
We chose the seeds for the garden bed from on online catalogue.
Better than a rose’s severed head,
Speared at the base with a pin, wrapped in plastic,
He wanted to grow me something.
He didn’t say this much,
But what can one person really say to another?
I folded your laundry.
There are bones in the trashcan.
In the summer the sunflowers will be as tall as me,
Their strong stalks etched with their own history.
What will I think of the seeds when I can stand face to face with the flower?
Maybe I’ll want to know what it is about after that is worst.
And the flower will answer.
Everything is the same.
Everything is different.
Sammi LaBue is a fiction writer and sometimes poet based out of Brooklyn, NY. Some of her other creative work has been published in [PANK] Magazine, Hobart, Permafrost Magazine, So to Speak, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in fiction writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the founder and leader of Fledgling Writing Workshops.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.