Salt & Sugar: Work Day

Once upon a time long long ago
I was born in Syracuse & immediately
started dying.
My life was so bright then it flickered.

—Nate Pritts

It’s Monday: a spreadsheet, empty and full

of numerical potential. The light in the office

is the color of my hangover. The coffee tastes automatic,

pressed by a machine—the printer smells electric

and inky and warm. My short sleeves remind me

that it’s summer. I’m busy thinking about caterpillars,

or inchworms, or whatever they’re called:

the little silky ones you find in corn.

I should be making phone calls but for some reason

I’m stuck in childhood, remembering how badly

I wanted to become a paleontologist when I grew up

because of Jurassic Park and Alan Grant

and his ever-hidden, Velociraptor claw memento,

always reminding him to keep scratching

at the surface of things.

 

I’m always scratching at the surface of things.

After dinosaurs, History bored me.

math was too hard and linear—didn’t make

much sense for a future-dinosaur-digger-upper

to solve quantum equations—only reason to study math

would be if you were going to figure out

planetary alignments, or verify String Theory,

or illuminate any indication of connectedness

of the universe so you could somewhat

guestimate the weight of your soul in grams

and how far it could float after you died.

 

As a kid, I tried so hard to believe in Heaven.

In my primary Sunday school classes,

they said if I prayed hard enough

I could talk to God

and He’d give me a sign.

But all I heard was everything inside my head

and it didn’t make sense to be talking

to what never felt like anything but me.

The one time I came close

to hearing an answer

was after I had turned eight

and had been baptized

and was walking out of the church—

a freshly washed, clean slate.

I heard thunder and said fuck it’s raining

& saw God in my head

write my name down on His giant chalkboard

for cursing & so I tried to repent as fast as I could,

but heard God’s nails screech

across the chalkboard, and knew He saw

through me—that I wasn’t really sorry

for saying the fuck word, and that probably

I’d do it again, so I’d better stop lying

before He put another check mark

by my name. So I sat down and stayed quiet

and tried not to think about my soul.

 

I wonder if I thought about death

as a child as much as I do now,

what with feeling lighter the older I get.

So light, I’m practically a photon

and I only get upset about real things these days.

The littler things tend to carry the most weight.

Like hearing my little brother, Ryan,

finally admit he stole the money from me,

especially after I screamed at him

& said horrible things

and we didn’t speak for 8 months,

not even while he was doing a third stint in rehab.

 

But now he’s happy and he’s in love

with the planet again. Last night,

I watched A River Runs Through It

and started crying before the end,

when you’re supposed to cry.

I think it was somewhere in the beginning

when they’re just kids laying out under

the Montana skyline—I remembered

when Ryan and I were young enough

to do that: to feel summer’s airs

breathe through us so smoothly

we didn’t even think about exhales.

When death wasn’t anything more

than a storm cloud—dark, loud, and threatening,

but so far off in the distance,

you knew you could never reach it.

 

But once we’re born we start dying immediately.

Doesn’t matter if you call the clouds

Death or God, they’re still the same thing.

Childhood just cradles our fathoms of it all.

I mean, who are we but our mortal selves entombed

in the flesh of our reflections?

 

Guess we won’t know until we get there.

Guess my boss isn’t really paying me to decide all this.

Front page image by Marcelo Alves.

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Adam Love

About the Author

Adam Love is an emerging writer from Salt Lake City, UT. His work is upcoming or appears in Main Street Rag, Metazen, Atticus Review, Sugar House Review, and others. He's the author of the chapbook, Another Small Fire (Tired Hearts Press 2013). He's the assistant poetry editor for Borderline, an online journal dedicated to persona writing and is the Literary Arts Coordinator for the Utah Arts Festival.
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