I’m in the vaulted chapel so the word rains back on me like dust
I’m in my grandmother’s living room where the syllables slide over corduroy fabric and wrapped candy, sneak under my grandfather’s wood carving tools
I’m in the classroom where my students laugh and I forget the implications of a four letter word but never mind I said frick and they think that is even funnier
I’m in the woods and the trees beg for the oxygen from my lungs even if it comes with the hard snap of a ck
I’m in the kitchen where I am an adult trying to tell my parents it is only a combination of letters like spoon or milkweed or glass
I’m still in the kitchen, they don’t get it
I’m in the greenhouse where I listen to the way the f bends around cucumbers and the u tucks itself under tomato leaves and the c wraps itself upwards with the peas and the k stands back proudly, hands on hips, smiling
I’m in a room of my mind I had to pry open with a shiny screwdriver which snapped the lock in a way that sounded so much like my favorite word
I’m in the produce section and my voice rings loud over the music coming from the speakers when I can’t help but exclaim at the smell of cilantro
I’m still in the exclamation
I’m in bed awake past 2 a.m. and I’m thinking about words and the folders we put them in labeled “now” or “never” or “not in front of family” which is so funny I laugh upwards into the darkness because they are words! And is it my fault or yours that a four letter word so beautifully puckered in sound can make your face blush because some man a dozen handful of years ago said “you can’t say fuck” and everyone was like “ok!”? And now on the brink of the end of the world I have no fucks to give and I am hollering my language into the burning air.
Olivia Kingery grows plants and words in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University, where she reads for Passages North. When not writing, she is in the woods with her Chihuahua and Saint Bernard. She tweets, @olivekingery.