sporklet 2
Sam Virzi

Young Family

We’re a young family. What one of us messes up another will fix. I push in chairs which aren’t mine. When I leave a bed unmade after I wake up, I will return to find it accomplished in my absence, and I’ll feel sad and guilty about it, and I won’t tell anybody, because nobody talks about that. We make jokes one assumes only we could laugh at, because we speak a common language. When I ask my sister what color her toes are, she knows which joke I intend for her to tell me to laugh at, what she’s supposed to answer, which color, and that I’ll laugh if she says the right one. She knows also there’s a wrong color for her to tell me, one which communicates the following: “I don’t feel in a joking mood.” I love my sister. We tell each other we have rich and interesting interiors which are ours to decide how much to share with one another, and we mean it. I mean it. I think sometimes about the biggest thing I can imagine, what it would be, its color and shape, and I don’t tell anybody about it. That’s allowed. I savor it in its being allowed. I tell it to each big thing I imagine: You are allowed. Then I imagine something bigger and say: You also are allowed. Then I imagine my thoughts as this larger-er-ness and I tell them all, You all were allowed, and I feel good, like I dug up something rich and sweet from the earth, roots intact, like an onion or your mouth in the morning.

Father builds fires Mother finds the wood for. She has a thyroid bulge which angers us at God, because we are such a young family. If she were to get ill, Father would go mad, I and my sister are nearly certain. Mother is ambivalent to pain, but frightened of God, and what we would do or could become without her. I believe this informs the fires Father builds. He makes a triangle out of two sticks and the hearth, and then builds all around, but one side heavier, so it spills as it burns in what he described to me as a “widening gyre.” He has tried many times to get me to understand. What he describes isn’t the same thing as what I watch burn with him and Mother and my sister. I see what he’s mad about. This also is distinct from what I feel together with him and Mother and my sister, what we all feel on our faces, the warmth. I am unsure why he chose to pass on the craft to me, and not my sister, because she seems to have better use of her hands, but I know what I’m supposed to do. One man picks up what another spills.

Mother and Father hold us close, my sister and me, but we’re getting too big for their arms. I eat almost as much as my father at dinner each night and as much as my mother. Mother eats with a rage at losing her appetite, we think because of her thyroid. Father is blind to this, I believe because eating takes over his sense of sight until he’s finished with his food. She blushes and wilts as he swells. My sister and I as their witnesses I fear puts a curse on us, but so what. Mother killed a chicken and taught my sister how to pluck it, skin it, about the parts, the cuts, for what they were useful, how to use her knives. My sister kept wiping dirty bright red down on her pants and mother told her to wait to clean her hands until she didn’t have to bloody them again. Wastes less time. I whittled a stick into nothing beside them with my bare hands and nails. I’m not old enough yet for knives. Probably I am, but so what. Sometimes I think of my life as all the food I used to be and all the shits I turned it into, as this something-else inbetween. Sometimes I get struck by a thought like this in the middle of dinner, when Mother and Father get quiet as my sister, pushing her chicken around. I’ll quit trying to make them laugh and contemplate the what more of us our bodies turn our food into. I’ll regard it all as part of a plan, and then not as part of any plan, as a joke or not a joke. I’ll ask Father something stupid. The truth is awful: we won’t be a young family much longer. I mean our parents put us in awe of it.

Sam Virzi is a substitute teacher and stagehand alive in Northampton, Massachusetts. He was the first resident at Camp Uranus, at Luke Goebel’s ranch in Tyler, Texas. He’s published writing in The New York TyrantDogmatikaMetazenMills Collective, and Hobart.