Splitting rivulets from cool magma, we poured the watersilver like liquid metal mirrors swimming in the palm till we learned about absorption and the kidney’s bitter end, how China’s first emperor drank it mixed with powdered jade, his cheeks and fingers flaming as fast death replaced the glowing life his alchemists swore to extend. So when my toddler son bit through his glass thermometer I dialed 9-1-1 then did my best to clear his mouth and airway of glass shards and the elusive cinnabar. And when the medics swarmed over Jeff, I kept out of their way. The dispatcher looped in Poison Control, ran some basic tests, while the sirens drew neighbors, who whispered in the hall, Look how frightened Jeff is while his mother does fuckall. Alchemy comes from Sanskrit: the way of mercury. My neighbors had wanted children. I just wanted Jeff to live. We weren’t so different after all. An amalgam of base elements with every way to wound and nothing to forgive.
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