Spotlight: Chipped Edges Crumble / A Criss-Crossed Sky

Chipped Edges Crumble

In summer, Gram lazily waves at me with the flyswatter while Gramp chain-smokes Swisher Sweets in his underwear, wrestling always playing on the heavy wooden-entombed TV. Even the flies are hot, buzzing in wide erratic circles around the trash, full of green and beige scooped cantaloupe rinds. I feel like Gram’s china, cornflower blue and fragile, a chipped edge turned toward the back of the hutch, dusted only when company calls. Outside, there is a small breeze, and the thick concrete step is warm and welcome on my rear. I cross and uncross my legs, pick at my funky toenail, wonder where my cousin is, and watch the road where nothing ever happens, the sidewalk that ends in a crumble before the faded stop sign.

A Criss-Crossed Sky

We wanted a criss-crossed sky. Unpronounceable food. Premium toilet paper. So we moved to the city, where bustle became background hum. We gaped at personal ads in indie lit zines (free at all 87 coffeehouses, with a Moroccan yerba mate), dangled hamachi crudo and kosho ponzu over each others’ open mouths, then made love on a jutty-metal mattress above hardwood floors, college kids planking on the fence outside our poo-speckled windows. Rave-dancing cockroaches in the kitchen, my jacked wallet and laptop, a triple homicide two blocks away wore us thinner than my faded 1994 flannel, resurrected for this fine young city. We stopped eating and sexing. You busted the kitchen door like cops, flashlight cocked, crushed roaches by the shoeful. It was my goddamn shoe. You screamed about mixed kale and arugula, because ‘[I] should damn well know how [you] hate arugula, by this point.’ You scrubbed the shit from our glass until your knuckleskin cracked and bled into soapy streaks. Not even the pedicab drivers hipstering or the homeless men humpbacking could cheer you. Finally, we were dairy and gluten-free, non-GMO, all organic, no hormones, additives, or irradiation, no artificial flavors, fertilizers, preservatives, pesticides, or colors. But, at the end, only air on our plates. And we couldn’t even see the fucking sky.

hlnelson_headshotH.L. Nelson ( is head of Cease, Cows and Associate Editor of Qu. Her publications include Writer’s Digest, PANK, Hobart, Connotation Press, Thrice, etc. Her poem “Absolution” was nominated for the 2013 Best of the Net. She’s compiling an anthology with stories by Aimee Bender, Roxane Gay, Lindsay Hunter, and others.