For the past few days, I’ve been soaking
my brain in a bowl of whiskey. It’s funny
to see, a brain in a bowl of whiskey.
Like some mushroom gone corrupt
and allowed to ferment. Strange,
what I let myself do. Dripping, my brain
fits right back in my head and I drive
to work and paint strips of egg
on floured dough and tuck in bits
of apples and cloves. The rum
meant for pastry cream goes instead
into my coffee. The bowl would be better—
but, hell, the way time goes I’m home
already, and I dip my brain in the bowl
again. Walking the dog, I run into Josh
and Danny and we stay up drinking
ginger beer and in the morning my brain
drops into the bowl of its own accord.
I sleep with the sun washing over me
in stripes until I wake with blood in my throat
and something splashing in the kitchen.
Walking the dog around the graveyard,
I call my uncle to see what other advice
he might have. Hugging a bottle of wine
only got me so far. I still spend some nights lost
in whiskey. Aha, his voice over the line
like he knew it all along. You’ve got to start
deep inside, he says, like way down
where nothing else can get in. Not easy
to reach yourself, but keep trying.
The graveyard is flooded after yesterday’s rain,
the graves nearest the fence completely under,
squares of brown water framed in concrete.
My uncle says to work out from a guarded place
to enact change, and anything is possible.
So. It seems I’ll either collapse or rebuild
from within. All along the graveyard stray bones
are humped against tree trunks, leftovers
from a midnight raid. Even locked gates
can’t tamp down the spectacle of opened graves.
Let’s hope I have better luck at keeping out
what wants in. All the way home I pull
the dog away from the bones. But
who can blame her, for wanting?
Marley Stuart is a baker who lives in New Orleans with his wife. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, his work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Xavier Review, L’Éphémère Review, and About Place.