Watering Down the House
By Maggie Dove
Two inches of green water in the above-ground pool; bubbling with giant tadpoles. Cleaning out the muck, the soles of your feet, between your toes, the tops of your feet, all the way up to your ankles, slimed with their wriggling struggle. You die with each one that you accidentally step on. You cry and try to get out, but your father orders you back in. This is the end of your immediate family and theirs. They’ll drop dead and then
The pool once brimmed clear, everyone happy to swim in circles around the edge, laughing, your joined mechanisms turning the still, blue water into what you called a whirlpool, where when you stopped, its tornado current would float you three extra laps around; a free merry-go-round.
For better, never for worse.
Three years later, rain water bulging the kitchen ceiling until it forms an upside down, wet, blister head four feet across, finally collapsing
onto the dining table below; then a marathon of drips, too many for such a small crack.
The crack grows wider; the drip turns to a stream.
Wider, then a second drip. A second stream. Wider.
A third, a fourth, a mosaic of mold blooms into brown, inky blots, changing in size and shape each day; a fungus kaleidoscope that you can turn by craning your cranky little neck.
It explodes into spores when
a surprise that unfolded over the course of six months with no chance to say, “I don’t like surprises,” poverty clamping its hand over your half baby-teeth and half adult-teeth mouth.
You are becoming something else with each baby tooth that
Next the living room; an old man neighbor comes to help by punching a hole into the middle of this new bulge, putting this blister out of its misery. There are no drips, only streams. It takes three months before the ceiling
this time. Popping the blister didn’t solve the problem of the rain water coming in, unless you considered suspense to be a larger problem than rain on your head indoors.
Next your bedroom, the place where you and your stuffed lambs used to be dry and safe; where you were their shepherd and the roof, a cloudless sky bubble.
You’re unemployed and they’re wet and you can’t get a goddamned hold of yourself.
One year later; well water, yellow, sulfurous, the failing well buried
in the backyard, like the devil himself poured you a drink of stink. It flows slow and eggy-stenched from the faucets, the showerheads, the hose, aerosoling up from the flushing toilet, sparking conversations with furrowed-brow visitors that start with:
“You don’t drink this or bathe in it, do you?”
The rust stains
Everyone sleeps with lemon juice in their hair to counteract its effects, bleaching the orange rust into slightly less orange rust. Your hair, packed with so many minerals it could be wrung out into a sports drink, gets eaten away by the juice.
You stopped swimming. You stopped looking up. You cut your hair.
He’ll drop you
Down to the dump
In an anti-climactic drip
The ceiling comes down
Goes under your pillow
Eighty-eight feet down
Streaking orange through your blonde hair