Let's say your first memory, the one that doesn't seem like a fever dream, is of your mother being carried out of the house by wisecracking paramedics after a suicide attempt.  Imagine that you watched all of this while sitting in a playpen that was actually a splintery wooden storage box.  There she goes, red running from her wrists and soaking the dark green carpet like a botched Christmas art project.  The paramedics laugh about not getting the blood to stop.  They can bleed for three days and live, they say.  She'll be fine, they say.  Your grandfather chews tobacco, spits down the narrow lid of a glass RC Cola bottle, and doesn't take his eyes away from the television where Tully Blanchard suplexes Magnum T.A. off the top rope.  Your grandmother doesn't bother coming home from work early after the police call her.

    Later, your mother is home again and you're in her lap.  She has Through the Looking Glass open in front of you.  Your grandmother only allows the Bible and crossword puzzle books in the house, so you're excited.  You hear her reading the words, but her eyes go all fluttery so she gives up and shows you the pictures.  Your tiny nails, those little baby claws, pick and pull at the black line of stitches that go down from her palm and almost reach her elbow. She smiles.  You see the Jabberwocky.  You smile.

    It's the next day and your mother is gone.  Your grandmother had her taken away.  You never see her again.

    Let's say you want to talk to someone about the vorpal blade.  Lewis Carroll stuck with you while everything else went away.  You want to talk about it, but you don't know how.  It's possible that you could yell it out in the middle of a conversation with a friend.  You have a few of those, though none really know you that well.  You could whisper it on the way to a concert, but you don't get out that much.  Just talking about it, starting with the vorpal blade, that idea scares you.

    Maybe it's like talking about your grandmother, a nurse at one of the cold buildings where old people go to fade away, who went to the funeral of every resident she ever had that died under her watch.  Maybe it's the same as finding a way to bring up the fact that she took a single flower from each of those funerals.  It could be similar to discussing your grandmother, her white shoes squeaking on the tile of the bathroom floor, taking a safety pin and sticking one flower per funeral to your scrotum while telling you that you, little you, were the product of sin, and that your little sin-y bits are the reason for all that is bad in the world.  That you, little snotty you, there in front of the mirror pissing yourself while the red drip dries, need to watch the flowers wilt and blacken because the wages of sin are death.

    It could be like never knowing your father, a man that your whole family only referred to as Potter the Rapist, and realizing you wouldn't haveanything to say to him except maybe something about the jaws that bite.

    What it's closest to, maybe, is telling somebody, maybe surrounded by flashing blue, that you know a little, a lot, everything, about the missing Liddell twins, those two girls who vanished on the way home from middle school. It would be like explaining how yellow their hair was, or how they both had rabbits on their sweaters.

    No.  The real connection, the only one that makes sense, would be you telling somebody, anybody, that you never had the vorpal blade.  It was never yours.  You, little snotty boy, little product of sin, you had the claws that catch.  The only way to talk about the vorpal blade is to let somebody know you want them to have it.  You have to tell them by yell or by whisper that they need to use it on you.

Jarrid Deaton lives and writes in eastern Kentucky. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. His work has appeared or is     
forthcoming in decomP, Right Hand Pointing, Zygote in My Coffee, and elsewhere.

Copyright 2009