Harp & Altar
Tom Andes

Leopoldine Core

Jason Snyder
from Family Album

Tom Whalen

from Family Album
Jason Snyder

Family Album | Oct. 20, 1984 | 9:47 a.m.

Matthew in the doorway to the sunroom, wig in hand. The tunic he wears, gilded with tinsel. The bangle wristguard, unclasped. He is looking at Mother seated at the secretary. Expression, alone inside a startled breathing, an off center hope of being noticed in his stare.

Mother, checking the syringe for air bubbles. As if nowhere but inside this clear liquid. Pants pushed down. Hair like a stain beneath the thin, milky film of her underwear.

Matthew at the needle sinking into Mother’s thigh, stealing this feeling, sealing it inside.

Father kneeling before a potted plant on the patio. The picture he makes framed by the sliding glass door. Broken stakes, nettled plant matter. The faint reflection. Sound, as if through cotton. Father twisting the stake deeper into the soil.

Mother rubs the muscle where the needle had entered.

Matthew pushing past this moment, eyes on the wrapper on which Mother sets the empty syringe.

Hormone vial on the secretary. Slit envelopes. Thermometer and chart.

Mother pulling up her pants, buttoning them.

Father outside winding the plant around the stake. Tomatoes at the violence of the sheet strips Father tightens into knots to hold the plant into place.

Mother, thermometer in mouth, noticing Matthew. Expression that of one turning something incriminating inside out.

Matthew, wrist up as if in explanation. The bangle jingles as he taps.

Mother from sunlight to shadows, approaching.

Matthew at the light and then dark on her mouth.

Father drapes a large sheet of plastic over the plant, seals it with duct tape.

Mother works the bangle.

Three thin cuts on Matthew’s forearm. The raised red of fresh slits clotting.

Mother tightens the bangle strap carefully. The seeping cigarette scab on Matthew’s wrist disappearing beneath.

Matthew up at Mother worrying the second buckle.

Faraway gaze. Thermometer tipped upward from her lips.

Condensation inside the plastic plant cover.

Mother, done with the bangle, returns to the secretary, sits down.

Sun off the knife Father stabs into the plastic.

Matthew at this motion as Father works his way around.

Mother shifting, breaking Matthew’s attention.

Matthew at the string of saliva stretching, separating as Mother removes the thermometer from her lips, checks the reading, plots a new point on the chart, wipes her mouth.



Broken inside my skin silent test

Because the temperature thermometer means she wants a baby inside her to hide the hormone treatment from him please believe me I don’t know this man James to be a mother means to keep a secret our little secret sweetie please not a word to your father how many times. And to cut and to boil the cold fertility syringe numb inside her she will use up all available heat watching her watch the red line within the glass as it rises. And to know he will leave her sterility if he finds out the needle we can’t go through with that again Emma are you fucking this man fucking listening to me how many times lines on the graph fluctuate her temperature to find out honey whether I am ovulating again. And to remember skin tight inside you so suddenly hot fevering to find yourself in her arms get the thermometer is he having a seizure sweetie please stay with me holding you close against her body cold absorbing her heat an egg drops inside me to draw out everything inside you so suddenly fevering when you were young dreaming heat. And to remember the metal and glass in your mouth. And to wait for the thermometer indication never knowing you’re burning up sweetie please stay with me how many times ice in the bathtub a nothing fever indication honey please we have to cool you the damage inside breeds and repeats. And to listen to your skin melt the ice. And to know something ill inside you will break up everything over and over it is over between them to feel normal again. Tell me Matthew how many times watching her take her temperature chart fertility to drop the eggs inside her to know why you think your mother wants to adopt another child a baby your thoughts running hot just to think of the possibility beneath. And to know she is absorbing what you have for her. And to feel the eggs will break inside her because your mind fevering how it felt to be the cause infected pus scabbing pussy had split open your wrist an indication rub the skin raw beneath the covers to feel everything wash over you with the sterility you bring.

And how it felt breakfast silence. How many times eggshells he is home the silent tension sucking the pulp who gives a fuck Emma what you want from the pit of the peach from me. And to boil and to watch her hand steady placing the eggs. How many times shells into hot boiling water the atmosphere fevers he is home because you want him to go away. And to watch the soft-boiled shells cracking and to know the temperature inside her fluctuates. Hot and cold to absorb every thought he has for you silently eating his eggs. Peaks on the chart mean a sinking into wetness you can’t think. And to know because pregnant the needle. Hormones how many times loosen the container by running hot water over the lid. And how the hot heat of yelling can’t tell me anything at each other about being a mother Emma you fuck wasted hole and to slip down inside your skin in the cold silence between them. Think of yourself suffocating beneath the weight of the cells the mirror tells you is me. And to feel everything they think closing over you until you can’t breathe. Fuck the plastic bag of her body he is stabbing had formed who you are becoming him my little man my little me can’t keep the plant from suffocating. And to stand see me mother broken inside my skin silent test. How many times the house sleepless tension. And to feel her withdrawing so different tell me Matthew the truth goes cold when he is home and to be removed contol the seep of temperature into the house sleepless atmosphere a fever to tighten the thread around your arm before cutting.

And how it felt hard to fever a forming something hard in your stomach cut yourself Matthew to separate its hold a separation push the blade down one and then one and then one while it is stirring. And to please mother see what the atmosphere comes and goes has become of me. And how your eyes on the needle how many times pants pulled down warm for you hair beneath the fabric her arms around you inviting does something guilty inside you to see her fertility slide into her heat. And to settle down sweetie please feel the warm she had for you how many times holding you close special warm against your face wet against her chest in memory. And to make her eggs break thoughts fevering through your skin. And to have someone there for you needle fertility rubbing you shhh sweetie please settle down pussy stabbing the plastic of her body so distant now tell me Matthew she provides caring I guess ma’am and how it felt to be recorded so tight within you splitting your mind to form a new baby within you just breathe. How many times the reaction explosive. And to feel the temperature rise tell me Matthew condensation separation when was it you never wanted to be touched by her anymore everything will be OK honey hormones through her skin smells like a wanting to breed.

And to pretend play a role snap out of this fog sweetie please you have to do your part the mask appearances for the family.

And to sit in your room warm electric silence feeling them in the house pins and needles. Don’t let me catch you with that needle Emma we can’t fucking go through that anymore closing in on you when you breathe. And to release how it felt splitting dividing inside you the egg meets the semen fertility tighten the thread around your arm to make everything go away except the razor blade edge sharp and nearing.

And how it felt at the surface release the shell eggs eye skin when it bleeds. And to be numb. Razor blade conception. The second is for the son I am between them the nothing I am because the baby heredity will be ill inside me.

Tell me Matthew yes she is different. And to watch her harden into her role play the part performance presentation an empty surface goes away inside her when he is home. And to know hormones in her veins from the rubbing. And to take her pills calm down sweetie so anxious let me cut one in half razor blade crush it up for you honey please tell me what has gotten into you lately. And to watch the razor blade in her fingers so steady. The snap powder splinters inside you splitting the edge breaks the pill in two. And how the crushing watching her scrape it all into the water in the glass in the spoon. And how social worker it felt eyes try to pry something hidden in me. How many times the chalky mixture makes the back of your throat feel like all of me. And to make no mention of anything to the social worker teacher your father friends mother anyone but to need someone to know what is happening inside me. And to feel yourself remembering. And to know memory makes a double of you just by thinking. Eyes in the mirror electric. And how her eyes in the tape recorder silence. Clipboard memory someone please see something scribbling whispering inside me.