304: Baby & I

304: Baby & I

304: Baby & I

Baby & I
by Shira Erlichman

“Baby, come help me.”

“Honey, pass me a flathead.”

Greg the Plumber has been here before, replaced a radiator, hit on me.
Today he’s flanked by Nick & Paco, or, Baby & Honey.
Nick, a six foot dude in dirty elbows & his mid-twenties & a wolf-beard
oafs over to Greg, who strokes a clanging vent in my bedroom.
In & out the hallway Honey begins the group task of carrying large pieces
of sink out my front door: glimmering white bones of former infrastructure.
Everyone is busy, but Nick finds me in the kitchen:

“I saw your book in there. You got Bipolar too?”

It’s so like me, to leave private thoughts loudly on my bed. “Yes.”

“I take meds & everything. Zyprexa & Seroquel. You?”

When I say Lithium it is a fact, like telling him what city I was born in
& finding out he’s from there too. Baby grins.
When he laughs, he claps his hands together like he just
came in from the cold. He could not be my brother, but he is
my darling. I want to slice a peace for him, or at least fetch a glass
of water so I do but as soon as I love him he is gone.

Years ago, I would’ve said, “Nope.”

But there’s a wolf grinning in my bathroom, Baby,
taking everything out—piece by piece—but the air.

"Baby & I" by Shira Erlichman, from ODES TO LITHIUM by Shira Erlichman, copyright © 2019 Alice James Books. Used by permission of Alice James Books.