Lamp casts ghost shapes on the wall. Snowberry (symphoricarpus hesperius) goes cold, loses leaves, appears as sticks dripping white globes. Snowberry decorates herself by being less.
The children are in love with whatever they can gather right now leaves right now cheap bracelets made of plastic right now stones right now. Leaves. They notice each and fill their pockets with about-to-decomp and mother supervising in the yard imagines lying down and papering herself with yellow dying shapes being nude and cold and covered so that that only her face would be visible.
The body keeps failing to be less. Confections in the shape of carved squash in the shape of ghosts follow the body to work after the night of children’s masking. This luxury substance there’s simply too much of. Too much of results in an undesirable excess of body, a pool of flesh you are capable of loving only when it’s less.
Sometimes you are you and also sometimes mother just as light can be both particle and wave a person sometimes other times a role and no one can locate you at any particular time on that continuum of you and mother at best the observers (you ever the observer) could assign a probability.
On a predetermined date the family gathers in the living space for ritual exchange. In the season of snowberry mother’s reactions are taken up entirely with consumer goods confections and the trimming of paper into shapes of snow a shape the sky does not make here.
At a slow rate the family depreciates clothes cars microwaves printers phones chairs virgin teeth unwieldy items built to amuse children. The cat, the dog. Each item in your care however small however tangential carries a charge you perceive the weight of its presence an energetic tax that pools in the synapses a suspected inhibitor of transformation and growth.
You will create the first big box store made to decay everything in it built with a reasonable lifespan before a predetermined return to nutrients. You will call it Decomp R Us. The children’s toys will one by one emit whiffs of rot and you and the children will carry them to the cedar’s broad feet just as slime is forming on a stuffed animal’s fur and the children will transfer their attachment from toys to cedar throwing their bodies against her tough and tender bark the ferns at her feet will extra flourish.
The boy, the girl watch Baking Show and conjure elaboration elaborating the simple with any available material taping bits of paper onto paper, paper made of failing forest clear Magic Tape made of question mark and unspooled from another piece of plastic.
Mother and father walk away from Baking Show and pick up their devices where they watch Chef’s Table an episode specifically in which a nun touches every mushroom carefully. Mother and father dream of hours and simplicity they vow to get rid of everything they order a book on fermentation and set it on the shelf with all the others.
The girl sheds teeth and gathers coins. Raspberry leaves yellow in the cold. The girl appears in the kitchen frozen toed with a cup full of broken berries and we all continue loving them though they’re bruised the way the boy the girl father continue touching down on mother’s body though it’s begun to droop grown pale and soft and creased.
In bed he continues desiring your pale soft creased body from the device you consume tips on making your body look different. You conjure the body that looked a certain way back then he desired you same as now you ran miles in attempts to look like someone else.
The device prompts you when it’s Bed Time and wakes you with recorded birdsong from a different season in another forest.
Jessica Johnson lives in Portland, Oregon and writes poetry and nonfiction. Her chapbook, In Absolutes We Seek Each Other, is available from New Michigan Press, and she has recent work in Entropy. “Of Winter Gardens, Confections, and Routine Holiday Stress” is an excerpt from a longer hybrid project called Plasticland. // @JJoPDX
Banner image by Olivia Cronk