SALIVA’S POINT OF JUMPING OFF
It’s the captured hiss of a simple word blown past the rim
of the mouth of the cloud I am, a barnacle gosling of spit
slapdash off the chin. It’s perfect, elemental. It’s itsy-bitsy
water and air, holding the last vibrations of a dying man.
We live a chemical or two away from cadaverous. The
body says, this story’s got him by the throat. Send him a
spoonful of our collected best, enough to wet his whistle,
enough for one soft-bubble, a chicken’s feather adrift
amongst a ruckus of fox. Think, too, of the idiot passing
us a secret, how he holds the smoke deep inside the book-
cases of his lungs, how he features a work-shirt from my
dead grandfather, one he’d wear when he passed the salt,
only now it’s a bong. The body, like the earth, has every-
thing it needs. And if, as they say, the land of the dead
is uncoupled from time, buck up. It means they are not
waiting for us. We’re with them now, always have been.
They’ve learned we are cottonwoods written by a thirsty
wind. They know that a coastline of students stretches
in front of me, anticipating the truth—how we are, each
of us, fools fooling the origin of the river for as long as
Fred Dale is a husband to his wife, Valerie, and a father to his occasionally good dog, Earl. He serves as a Senior Instructor in the Department of English at the University of North Florida. He earned an MFA from the University of Tampa, but mostly, he just grades papers. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sugar House Review, The Summerset Review, Chiron Review, Crack the Spine, The Evansville Review, and others.