by: Davon Loeb
Davon Loeb’s poems chart the way the surreal unfurls itself just underneath the everyday. In his work, simple domestic scenes brim — like scalding hot water in an overfilled tub — with the subtle tragedy of ongoing loss.
It’s Bath Time
When our hot water is cut off, my big sister boils large pots of water in the kitchen. She turns down the eye of the stove, and cautiously lifts the almost overfilled pot with two dishrags. I stand next to her, walking the whole way, trailing what’s left of her shadow. And it reminds me so much of Sunday mornings—when my sister pulls her two little brothers from our beds—wrapped in sheets, we are little ghost booing all the way to the bathroom. Where my brother and I shoulder for the sink, and brush for three minutes, because our sister always counts. And then the tag-behind, fitting our feet in the wet pivot of her arch—like baby ducks, and one-and-one-and-one, and together. And while the water steams, my sister looks away and briefly down at me, and she can be my mother, like when she dresses me for school, ties my bit-sized oxfords and clips on my clip-on tie—and I love her then, and even when her side-ponytail turns to fire and hairspray and brimstone and sets my world aflame, and with the one look, the one sharp furling glare, I become a stone and snakes hiss all over her head, and even during the Silent Treatments, or the missing nightlight, and the tickle torments, and transform-less Transformers—after I steal her things—the Troll Dolls, cassette tapes, scrunches, earrings, and everything else that looks fun and foreign—I know my sister will still carry these pots that are always brimming over. And in the bathroom, she says—the water will cool off fast, and I look at her like I’ll never forget what this dependency feels like. And she starts pouring the water in the bath—and maybe this time the water is too hot, or the bath is already too full, but whatever it is—the hot water splashes everywhere—and my sister pushes me, and drops the pot—and it empties, and the water is red—and her body screams only in the way our bodies can react to something of shock—just guttural and uncontrollable—like a loss of language—and when she tries to unpeel the pink corduroy pants, the thick cotton is layered with skin—and then sometimes I think that the only real thing we can ever offer each other are our bodies.
Dad gets ready for work. It’s 3 AM. He shaves taupe-colored hairs into a lemon-scented froth. Dad nicks his neck, and spots red on little white paper-rips, like bolls of cotton swelling with blood. The blue flakes of silver-sheet moon slide through the folds in the bathroom blinds. The hot water steams and his callused fingertips soften. Dad’s jungle-eyes glow green and wild while watching Mom sleep. It’s almost silent—only her breathing cocooned under the covers, and the tightening of his high-ankle boot strings. And it’s after 3 AM, while Dad gets ready for work—I crane my neck for my house key. My eyes blink, like bulbs of blur—and I burp, shift my weight, and straighten my back. I am a bulky leaf lapping and whirling—loud, and so drunk, and winded, and I stump my feet, and wiggle the tongue from out my shoe—barely standing. Dad is rebarred—concreted by years of these stone mornings. And when the door opens, a pale light splits my face in two, and Dad sits—shoulders slumped at the table, rippling a spoon at his coffee. His skin, like the husk of a coconut, and he says nothing—and our two bodies are just two continents moving past another.
Don’t Tell Mom
After the cough, and the shakes, and the hot summer sweat—when it all hits me, and it’s the weight of the sun, with brother, cousin, and cul-de-sac—until I go silent, and the world is heavy and it is like the death of me—of neighborhood boy, bunny-hopping curb streets, and dirty tread, and cards taped between tire spokes, and chasing ice cream trucks as if bodies were on fire—winging arms and pumping legs, and being a kid—before brother tells me to come for a walk, with cousin, and cul-de-sac—and inhale deep, like catch my breath, and don’t tell mom.
Davon Loeb earned an MFA in Creative Writing and a B.A. in English. He writes creative nonfiction and poetry. His work has been featured in Apeiron Review, Word Riot, Drunk Monkeys, Harpoon Review, Connotation Press, Portland Review, and Duende Literary Journal, among others. Davon is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. Currently, he is working on his first collection of lyrical essays.