Encounter in Whitehorse
Under clodlike clouds too thick
for the aurora borealis to penetrate, the
Yukon River crackled a greeting beneath its
icy shell while log-cabin skyscrapers and
silvery evergreens slept or possibly
The coyote, whose furry
ears rose at the terminus of a frosty road,
filled the night with its answer:
Not a baleful howl or a gritty
growl, just the
nip-nip-nip of playfulness and pep,
the tiny grin in its voice mirrored
by the one on my face.
God, I Hate Cleaning the Bathroom
My head heavy from the Scrubbing Bubbles that
promise to save me precious labor as
I say goodbye to the grime and grout
on the unintentionally toffee-colored tiles, I
sigh and sit on the hot pink toilet seat cover
that looks envious of its big sibling, the fuzzy rug draped
over the bathtub.
Both were bequeathed by Nana, who’d
expired in September after Aunt Nancy’d
urged the nurse to pump up the morphine
to mollify the pain once
the cancer had colonized the bones.
A draft of fifty-one-degrees-Fahrenheit/eleven-degrees-Centigrade
traces my face as I watch ants hobnob around an errant splash of
Kool-Aid on the gravel outside the open window that offers a view onto half a
faded ‘Free Puppies’ sign flapping against a leafless oak tree.
It must have been forgotten since the malamutes and their
masters had decamped in a moving van on the morning of
that election day when everyone was so angry.
Teasing me from under the closed closet door is the
border of the bathroom scale I banished after devouring the
entire rhubarb crisp Cheryl had smilingly foisted on me
despite my best efforts to
follow Beyoncé’s Master Cleanse because boys worry
about willpower and weight too.
On Friday afternoon he’d lunched solo, as usual, on the Cracker Barrel
fish fry special during which he’d daydreamed he
was Dina, the eldest daughter of a doting
Neapolitan-American Catholic couple in 1959
instead of a twenty-first-century-middle-aged Methodist
of English and Scottish and Swedish descent
– according to a hundred-dollar DNA test –
flung aside as a flake by his family
and whose nagging gender dysphoria drove him
to shame his balding pate with mail-order berets.
Popping into the gift shop, he strained to make
his two-hundred-seventy-two-pound frame in a paisley t-shirt
as petit as possible as if to apologize for
his plump presence and not bump into the crush of impulse buyers
and salespeople or destroy displays of candles and candies and cards
and owls and samplers that screamed “Relax and Accept the Crazy”
as he bitch-slapped his panic and fed his basket before it puked
Dubble Bubble and diet orange ‘n cream soda at the cashier,
a cinnamon-scented sixtiesh lady with a Nancy Reagan hairdo who
didn’t question the tiny tube of champagne lip shimmer before
fondling the fractured tutti-frutti candy stick and cooing,
“Oh it’s broken. Are you sure you don’t want a different one?”
Insulted by the suggestion to refuse such a flamboyantly sweet,
yet shattered specimen, he expelled a plaintive “No!”
like Betty from Father Knows Best before
inhaling the yellow and red and green and white shards
while waiting for the bus.
Adrian Slonaker crisscrosses North America as a language boffin and is fond of opals, owls, fire noodles and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Adrian’s work, which has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net, has been published in WINK: Writers in the Know, Ez.P.Zine, The Pangolin Review and others.