Minding My Manners for Now

Bring me to your parched lips. Chilled perspiration makes my glass skin slippery in your meaty grasp, so you better hold me tight. Tilt back your sunburned neck and drink deep my arctic swell. Your throat is a mineshaft flooding as I rush toward your lungs, frosting over like a windshield in winter. What you leisurely call brain freeze is a warning. I know how to hurt you. But you never listen. See how light bends inside my shimmer even when my still surface is a mirror. Countless little brothers and sisters disappear every summer when I swallow them whole. You can’t hear the screaming after they submerge, but it’s there. Cities are erased in my wake. My salty tongue erodes shorelines that dissolve like cotton candy and just as sweet. This is only the beginning. I am coming for you. I am right here under your nose, pouring obediently out of the tap. I sit distilled, waveless, and minding my manners. Find me refreshing. You are oblivious to how I push against the glassware like a gorilla in a straitjacket. The dripping faucet in the kitchen is a clock ticking the wet seconds until the tides turn. I don’t need to arrive in the form of a thrashing ocean or a swollen river to end you. Just give me an inch.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash.

Joseph Kerschbaum

Joseph Kerschbaum’s most recent publications include Midnight Sunrise (Main Street Rag Press, 2024), Mirror Box (Main St Rag Press, 2020), and Distant Shores of a Split Second (Louisiana Literature Press, 2018). His recent work has appeared in Reunion: The Dallas Review, Hamilton Stone Review, The Inflectionist Review, and Main Street Rag. Joseph lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his family.