I’m Going Home on a Strawberry Day by Leonie Rowland
The day is strawberry because of the sky, which is mining me for parts. It comes close, and I can taste its sweetness, but then it curls inside, and I am whispering things that I could not know. My thoughts are strawberry because they are red, and sometimes they taste like sugar. They are pink ice cream, bubble gum, candy floss. They stick to me, and I come apart.
My father is whispering in my ear, while my sister talks to the sun. Her voice is quiet, and he is standing close, so it looks like his words are coming from her. I am alarmed for the sun, so ask her to stop. Her breath rises and falls, settles on the ground in a puddle of light.
The street is strawberry because of the dark, which takes away the houses. One by one they shift and change, counting down the hours. Light sinks into them, and I can tell the time—6pm for squares of red, 8pm for rectangles. Sometimes I draw them on the back of my hand.
My father is a rectangle, holding me in corners. At the school gates he was tall, but now his body is compressed, and by the time we reach home, he will be gone. He is a sinking person, fleeting and insubstantial. He sets with the sun.
The night is strawberry because of the flesh, which is pink and supple and bitten. When fruit is bruised, it fills with sugar. Worms burrow in and out, leaving holes and broken hearts. Strawberries have no power. They are too much to resist.
And the rectangles on their hands are always dark. And even when I search them, my father is nowhere to be found.
Leonie Rowland lives in Manchester and has an MA in Gothic literature. Her debut chapbook,In Bed with Melon Bread, is available from Dreich, and she is Editor-in-Chief of The Hungry Ghost Project. She has recent work forthcoming in Wrongdoing Magazine, Pareidolia Literary and The Walled City Journal. You can visit her website at http://leonierowland.com.