“Meltdown” by Liz Afton

Every day it grows, the placid iceberg
on the table between our plates–
the monolith of your grief.  I can barely
make out your eyebrows above its peak.
Your eyes glitter shut, and its edges slick
a bit more meanly, simmer in freezy
smoke. You frown salting dinner, you
stiffly sugar waffles, and new blusters
settle on the pinnacle. Penguins
waddle in the frost furrows,
little avian parades.

Every day I crouch over pale food and
send my silverware clattering together,
dumb as a Neanderthal, frantic as
a Boy Scout practicing in the rec room.
I fantasize attacking it with chisels,
taking up ice sculpture, flinging it through
the meat grinder in a whoop de doo
of cold confetti, burning it in the dark
with our own insistent friction,
your fingers’ sparks.

I forget post-heat– puddles in our laps
like pee, sea-bottom sneakers,
hands splayed like scared starfish,
eyes wide and nothing to see then
but each other, nowhere to turn
but to swim.



Liz Afton is an MSW student at Hunter College School of Social Work.  Her current field placement is providing intensive mental health case management at a family shelter in the South Bronx.  She received her BA in English and the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College, for which she was one of two poets selected to represent at the Five College Student Poetryfest.  Her poetry is forthcoming in Brink, Numinous, and Shampoo.  A native New Yorker, she lives in Brooklyn with two kittens.