Rainie Oet


March 14, 2001

I am standing on the roof of my father’s silver car, impermanently denting it—holding a dozen orange mesh bags of oranges: in my elbows, hands, under armpits. He’s standing in the open doorway of the house and he’s also inside the car, craning his neck up to watch from the driver’s seat. The Papa watching from the house is six years old. I am six years old but my body is adult, with hair. These are so heavy. I shift on my feet and, without meaning to, drop a bag and another bag and another until they’re all on the ground, oranges rolling down the driveway. I’m my own mother picking them up at the bottom, and I’m also still standing on the hot silver car in my bare feet. It’s winter but it’s 90 degrees, my feet are starting to cook. It smells like carrot cake. It’s my birthday. But I’m not born yet. I get off the car and climb into the car. Papa drives me to the hospital. I have scarlet fever. Semi-conscious for twelve days and nights as water slowly fills up the room. When I can’t breathe anymore I am making so much sound I realize that I can’t hear anything else. Just my fingertips are above the water. The water is unbearably cold.

RAINIE OET (formerly Jacob) is a nonbinary writer whose work appears in The Adroit JournalColorado Review, jubilat, Poetry Review, and Sycamore Review. They are the author of the chapbooks No Mark Spiral (CutBank Books) and With Porcupine (Arcadia), which won the 2015 Ruby Irene Prize. They are an MFA candidate in poetry at Syracuse University, where they were awarded the Shirley Jackson Prize in Fiction.

Issue Six
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