He begins by sliding the edge against stone until it sparks. That's my father
paring the apple. His long fingers catch the skin like a prize.
My father tilting the blade, sharp against each pencil, bringing the color back.
When he's through, he rests
the knife on the kitchen windowsill, gated and diamond-crossed, stained from
cigarettes, boardwalk air. In the evenings, he places
an apple, quartered, beside the pencils and looks at me with gladness because
I've asked for such small things.
I ask my mother for something small I can hold onto. She sends me his wallet
and a stopped pocket watch. That's all, she said.
The wallet? Leather Americana embossed with flowers, a name that's not his.
Painfully clean. Months later,
I find one two-dollar bill in a secret pocket. He kept it that way.
Even dead, he's got me laughing, a wallet named Peter and an antique bill.
I cut my hair and it felt like crying.
What I want: a kitchen with good sunlight, kerchief for my table and my father's
samovar, gold with blue flowers.
Look: papa standing on a chair, concertina in his hands (his one childhood photo).
What I have: his white ceramic cup painted a soviet winter scene, permanently
stained, and black lace from the week we buried him.
I forget how to make dinner. I fuck the wrong girl. Damn it. What I want is good
light, something clean.
by Gala Mukomolova
Gala Mukomolova received her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers' Program. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in a variety of journals/sites including the Indiana Review, Drunken Boat, and PANK. She has resided at the Vermont Studio Center, the Pink Door Retreat, and Six Points Fellowship: ASYLUM International Jewish Artist Retreat. Nowadays, she impersonates an astrologer for The Hairpin and practices slicing deli meat as thin as she can.