the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2007



Chelsea Bunn


Mornings, the father would cook breakfast.
The girl would sit at his glass-topped desk reading a book.
The father would stand at the stove, stirring and turning the red potatoes,
          creaking open the oven door to check the small, tan biscuits.
The girl would ask for grape juice.
The father would bring it to her.
He would forget sometimes she didn’t like so much pepper in the eggs.
The father had photographs of the girl at three, at seven, in pajamas, under the
          glass, and the girl would drag her fingers over them.
The father would complain about the buttery mess she left.
There was no kitchen table because it was covered with books, catalogs, photo
          albums, cases for clarinets that hung on the walls. They had eaten
          there several times when the father moved, but it never felt the way breakfast used to feel.
The girl would sit at the father’s desk, her feet swinging from his rolling
          leather chair. The father would go into the other room, occasionally calling
          out did she need anything, and she would always say no, thanks.
After breakfast they would walk together in his vast garden.
He would point to flowers, name them, she would repeat the names.
She liked the way they felt in her mouth.
Chrysanthemum. Geranium. Marigold.
At the end of the yard, a small pond into which she would drop pellets for
          the fish.
The father would rest on the green-cushioned swing and pat the empty space
          next to him. They would sit together, rocking a little in the morning
          breeze, each thinking their separate thoughts. The air would feel frighteningly cool. The branches above
          them would shake.


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