Thank You for Being Her[e]

Andrew Borgstrom

This is a fire:

When Grandmother ran out of Kool-Aid, she would pour the Tiger’s Blood syrup left over from summer’s snow cones into our glasses. The syrup poured over the rim and onto the blood-stained gopher wood.


I lit a fire with waterproof matches:

Grandmother washed the dishes in the bath and put them in the cupboard before getting dressed. Her flesh the color of fall leaves, withered and brittle, more attached to the linoleum than the bone.


This is a waterproof fire:

What is God? I asked Grandmother. She handed me an address and a room number. Grandmother never taught me how to hit, how to fold my fingers at the knuckles into a fist but not to fold the second joint into the palm.


This fire is hot and not wet:

I showed Grandmother a biblical passage that contradicted her involvement in PETA. She showed me a biblical passage that contradicted my involvement in Christianity.


This is not a quilt:

I hit the man who lived behind the room number. I wondered if the man knew my grandmother never taught me how to hit. I wondered who taught the man how to be a face.


This is definitely a fire:

I cried because I wasn’t sure why I was hitting the man, and because his face broke my fingers. I cried for both of us, and laughed for one of us.


I did not weave a quilt with waterproof matches:

Grandmother never taught me how to hit, but she taught me how to inherit arthritis and stomach cancer.


This is not a wet quilt:

I looked at my face in the mirror, at my face in her mirror, at my face and her mirror. I forgot I used to want to be a firefighter.