“Red Sink” by Lexi Noga
The deep red sink in the kitchen is clogged
again, choking on leftovers or a
forgotten spoon. The garbage disposal
sputters- a stalled engine during winter
in New England. The blades hum, rotating
and hesitating, rotating and hes-
like a windmill on a still August day
attempting to grind wheat into snowflakes.
The honeycomb blades turn slowly, then stop–
motionless, patiently waiting like a
childless pinwheel for a rare gust of wind.
“Portland Head Lighthouse”
My grandfather makes blueberry pancakes and black coffee,
then tells us to hurry.
We scramble, put on wet bathing suits, forget sunblock, and
hop into his pick-up.
He grips the handle like a vice, wincing when his metal
hips scrape, but he tells us
nothing, and hums Patsy Cline as he drives to Casco Bay
to show us the lighthouse,
because he does not remember going the year before.
He does not remember
My grandmother’s heart-shaped face or the whole afternoons spent
searching for sand dollars
along the coast of Delray Beach. Or their first December
without snow or thick boots.
And he does not remember the night she hushed their children,
told them to pack it all
and left the silverware and a pair of sandy flip-flops.
At the bay, he admires
the rocky shore with washed-up crab legs, fragments of seashells,
clams broken open and
the lighthouse, white and worn by centuries of raging storms,
like it was the first time.
The passenger seat of the Ford still has deep
imprints left by Al’s back and thighs that remind
my father of the raw December morning
his heart stopped, and its last beat ricocheted off
the clear ice lining the driveway and echoed
like the clang of a church bell, when the driver
didn’t turn on the lights or howling sirens.
That night, my father drove home alone. His wet,
heavy sleeves dangled around his forearm when
he dug his nails into the wheel and begged God
for some sign. But, when the coal-black sky offered
no consolation, he shut off the engine
and listened to the creek’s currents roll downhill,
a distant, uncanny rhythm. Or heartbeat.
My father, tasked with navigating narrow backroads
and swerving to avoid the deep and shapeless
potholes scattered across the pavement
like stains of ink on a Rorschach test,
drove cautiously to make sure my mother stayed
asleep. At stop signs, he watched her belly,
swollen like a ripe honeydew, rise, and fall.
When she tossed and twisted, her T-shirt rode up
revealing the lizard tattoo that had grown
twice its size in a matter of months.
When they pulled into his mother’s driveway,
she opened the screen door and waited.
Her house, with worn wooden panels,
and plaid curtains smelled of sandalwood incense,
and had not changed in over a decade.
Jeanie sat at the kitchen table,
and offered advice my mother never asked for;
honey can cure any sickness, a spoonful
of whiskey puts children right to sleep, and that
trying is enough.
Jeanie told her she had her first son at seventeen
and named him David William,
my father’s name; a son she gave up.
Her boyfriend left and drove his motorcycle
to New Orleans, or Kansas City– somewhere else.
Somewhere far enough that the clatter of
a baby’s rattle would be only a faint, distant echo.
She had no choice. This was before women had a choice.
But it was a secret my mother could not bear to keep,
and my father mourned the lost boy who shared his name.
Biographical Note: Alexis Noga is a poet and undergraduate creative writing student at Denison University. Her work has been featured in Blue Marble Review, and Exile Magazine.