Your mom is birdwatching and you’re thinking about rapists. She points out a woodpecker or something. She use to be a big name in publishing. Now she’s retired. Now she makes sponge cake and points out woodpeckers. The walls are painted eggshell so she’s walking on eggshells as she’s climbing the walls. She has the best landscaper in Connecticut. You wonder if your mom has a rapist. She’d have the best rapist in Connecticut. Her trees are so lush that they’re top-heavy. Their trunks buckle under the weight of their foliage. It’s like they’re suicidal says your mom. The best landscaper in Connecticut bolsters them with structural reinforcements.
Your mom asks if you slept on the ﬂight here and you tell her you don’t sleep. You try to shower but your mom’s faucet is in French. It says “chaud” and “froid.” It’s too froid. It isn’t froid enough. You think your mom could use a visit to Froid. She asks where your rapist is now and you say he’s in your pocket.
Your rapist is on Instagram, hanging out with everyone. Everyone is like, so-and-so invited him. He used to be a big name in raping. Now he’s retired. Now he hangs out with so-and-so and this must have been some ﬂuke thing because he’s a really nice guy if you get to know him everyone tells you. The trees are suicidal and it doesn’t matter what language the shower is in, you never feel clean anyway.
You have trouble breathing at night. Your mom asks where your rapist is now and you say he’s in your lungs. You go for a walk on eggshells. Your mom’s landscaper is the best in Connecticut. He waves you over to see where the trees are buckling. He tells you he got into the country in a shipping crate so small he had to dislocate his shoulder to ﬁt inside. You tell him your rapist is on Instagram, hanging out with everyone. He says sometimes life throws a lot at you.
Your mom has a hybrid dog. You scratch its belly and pick up its shit. Once it dislocated your mom’s shoulder by pulling too hard on the leash. She could have ﬁt in a shipping crate, you think. The dog cocks its head at you. It tells you that it used to be a person, a person who threw a quarter in a well during a lightning storm and woke up in the body of a hybrid dog in Connecticut. Some ﬂuke thing. You’re like why are you telling me this. He says sometimes life throws a lot at you. You ask what it’s like being a dog and he says it has its days.
Your mom is making sponge cake and you’re thinking about rapists. Yours is a really nice guy if you get to know him. Your mom used to work in Paris. Now it’s only Paris in her shower. Now she’s buckling but bolstered with structural reinforcements. Now she’s blanching the basil and deboning the branzino and she’s mastered the sponge cake which is very moist. Don’t pathologize the sponge cake says your mom. Eat up. Life is hard but not as hard as a stale sponge cake. She makes extra for the dog and the landscaper.
—from Rattle #74, Winter 2021
Madeline Cash: “There are very few things I love doing. Of those things, writing has the fewest calories.”