Hopeless Holding-On

by Shaun Terry

Sad Kid Concord Jelly

I set the concord grape jelly bottle on the old oak chair
and climbed about it,
pulling my weight up by the wooden bars that formed its back.

My thumbs pressed the seam of the plastic lid,
flipping it open.
The bottle was massive
in my one marshmallowy hand.
I squeezed in the same way I’d seen my parents do.
I’d have laughed at the funny noises,
as tiny samples of purple gelatin sprayed into my wrinkly palm,
but my face’s features lie motionless
as I pondered the source of frustration.

I recalled dad’s ritual:
I snapped the lid securely back
and motioned as though I were throwing the bottle overhead
to get the goo to the tip of the lid.

I tried again.
I squeezed the sweetness into my hand
and smiled.
My face grew, my motions quickened.

I wanted to eat it all,
but too much had materialized,
and the goo began to spill from my palm.
I thoughtlessly dropped the bottle onto the chair,
before it bounced about the floor.
I joined my hands and squeezed —
helpless — as my prize
ran down my pudgy, pale arms.

Later that day,
my little sister and I went into the yard,
where we blew feathered heads of dandelions
and ran to catch each soft, floating white-and-black bird.
We expended our energy,
uselessly following as many as seeds as we could.