by Christopher Sturdy
What I tell her,
my therapist, is how a tiny pressure cooker sits,
vice-gripped between my teeth, housing
nails & pins & ball bearings,
its ticking tempering the tempo of my temper
like a metronome failing to keep time.
What I fear
is the explosion & the nothing & the silence.
And I know that doesn’t make sense, but think
about ball bearings shattering enamel,
and nails perforating cheek bones,
and pins puncturing gums, and you start
to understand my father.
What I fear
is the strength of my father, who—
with his weakest physical body, post-chemo, post-
radiation, post-muscle—was able to move
asteroids with a midnight meltdown, shatter a pane
of tempered glass with no rings on fingers, no blood trick-
ling off skin, before his pressure cooker burst
and he didn’t speak for three years.
What I didn’t foresee
is how she will tell me there is no pressure
cooker at all, how it’s made it
up, and how to let it go.
What I don’t know yet
is how she is right.
Christopher Sturdy is an MFA Fiction Candidate at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. Previously, he taught high school English for six years in his home state, Minnesota, and worked as an associate editor for Chautauqua Literary Journal. When he’s not scribbling scenes down for his thesis, he tutors elementary students and bartends to pay the bills.