Little Time by Roger Guetta

by Robin Sweet

I sit at my desk to write it away—
that stink-bomb of feeling. I try to write
about my father’s death. Not the large story:
the massive electrical failure of his heart, his organs
fried like eggs on an Alabama sidewalk—not any of that!
I won’t go near it.
And so I write:

I am cooking spaghetti when the stove-top clock
flips: 8:05.

And it’s true, I was cooking spaghetti when my eyes
were drawn to the stove-top clock:
—the moment of knowing and unknowing—
the moment of my father’s death

though I do not know it yet; I have yet to be struck
unclean and left like Pigpen: ash on my face, puff
ball of dirt hovering at my heels—O the stink of me!

Later, I am told my mother was cooking too.
And so I write:

Later, I am told my mother was cooking too.

While upstairs my father lay slumped
in his easy chair. Was she cooking spaghetti?
Was she too out of Brillo?

I had been cooking spaghetti and the white Formica
was stained with tomatoes
but in my poem

I made it white porcelain—

The white porcelain is stained with tomatoes.
I’m out of Brillo; It takes forever to clean.

I don’t own any Brillo, but I like the sound of it
—BRILLO—rolling off my tongue. But then I think:
You would never use Brillo on white porcelain.
So out it goes. And I am left
with dirty countertops
and a stink-bomb of grief.