On the Kitchen Table

Mar 1, 2023 | 2023 Spring - Bodily Autonomy, Privacy, and Choice, 2

By Lily K ODa

No, this is not going to be sexy. But it is going to be meditative. It is going to be surprising. It is going to determine life or no life. 

I come to the kitchen table, not to eat, never to eat, but to write. I eat standing up, leaned against the counter, sitting up carefully on the couch, hunched over the sink. But I write sitting down. At the kitchen table.

It’s a long kitchen table. Too big for only three but just the right size for entertainment. Entertainment comes in the form of lasagna nights with friends or a few rounds with the letter tiles. It’s a light kitchen table. The color of air conditioning and wicker baskets filled with crackers and small cheeses and honey. Drops of coffee dry on it to make outlines of amoebas, painted in the same color as the grain of the wood. The same color, but not the same curve. Both are organic, but one is linear and one is chasing itself in a wobbling ring. What else is there to do besides study dried drops of coffee? Unless of course I were to write.

There are three mostly-melted candles on this light, coffied table. One the color of molasses, sides melted at a jaunty angle reminiscent of ladies and horses and Kentucky. The middle one is the color of dried citrus, the kind they use in fancy cocktails. It’s melted to two points on opposite sides of the once-circle, forming a kiss, or inner labia. The last is part yellow, part mahogany. One side is melted and collapsed onto the citrus lips, the other has dipped into the curve of a smile. I don’t know where the white wax came from, but it pools and trails from the molasses candle like semen carelessly spilled and left to dry.

Three plants, two vines and one succulent, stand sentry, the placeholders of life when no human populates the table.

Three candles, three potted plants. Three deaths, three lives. I can’t help but think in terms of death and life. I’ve always been one but not the other. And I’m obsessed with this.

There’s a third existence, too, though. The not living. Not dead, not alive, but not living. This is why I think of lips, and semen. This, the cloying biological motive to make alive! make alive! When to be alive! to be alive! is boredom and awkwardness and pain and being lost. Lost from an earth no longer young and fresh enough to be a Mother. Lost from a living wage and safe home and any sense of ownership or belonging.

So I sit at this honey and coffee table, long, host of life and death and the not living. And I write because it feels needed, if not important. Slow, if not meaningful. Life, if not death.

Lily ODa is an aspiring poet who loves to explore emotionally evocative images. She lives with her cat, bunny, and two roommates in Salt Lake City, UT.

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