Jars by Kelsey Ipsen
I keep the people I love in jars on a shelf in my room. I can do this because they are all made out of water. Once I told someone this and they smiled and said, “Yes, humans are nearly ninety percent water.”
And I had to say, “No, that’s not what I mean.”
“Dad?” I say to a jar of quiet water. He makes ripples that might mean “Listen to your mother” or might mean nothing at all. Mother’s waves are moving angrily today. They look like how mountains would look if I couldn’t understand height. My brother is moving from one side to another like rocking and rocking, and it’s inching him closer to the shelf edge. “Stop.” I say, and push him back toward the wall. But he does this again until he falls, and I have to wring him out of the carpet.
Some people might think looking after water-jars is easy, but it’s not. I want to be looked after too, so I cry myself into an empty jam jar. It doesn’t work. I just end up smelling like sick. I start pushing the fake-golden center of the jam lid. It looks like a nipple of honey. I listen to it pop up bad, bad, bad. I wonder if I am ninety percent anything apart from ninety percent sick of them, silly see-through jars of one hundred percent.
Dear water-jar family, I have a gift for you. They trust me, they don’t suspect a thing, they gladly come with me and I pour them into the ocean. Here is where I get scared of going swimming. Later, I kiss ten percent of a boy on half of his lips, and think, ‘My heart is a dirty boat on the dark water.’
Kelsey Ipsen lives in France and speaks French like Jane Birkin. She writes mostly in silence but always with her cat walking over the keyboard. Her work has appeared in nib, litro, and metazen.
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