I thought cold rot would be better than warm rot,
so I turned the breaker back on after the renters left
a family’s worth of food in the fridge, but the heat got to it
before I did, liquefied the butter and ice cream,
pressurized the soda cans so that I had to work steadily
with diligent hands like a surgeon, handling the meat,
the pasta, the eggs, with a covered nose and a rock-hard stomach.
A group of vegetables in the bottom bin had grown heads
of white hair, carrots slender as fingers, tomatoes with skin
cracked like paper, a cucumber spitting up seeds.
I couldn’t help thinking about the daughter who died there,
the eldest child (who shared my name) who found a way
to let herself go quietly in that apartment, before I owned it,
before the people in it were broke and gross and took their agony
out on the drywall. I didn’t ask why they told me about her.
For sympathy, maybe. Desperate to seem human, I don’t know.
But it got to me in the fridge, thinking about the cold blonde body.
Her family watching cable too loud and Jennifer in a bathroom bleeding.
I pulled out a cartoon cereal box with pictures doodled on it:
hearts, moons, shamrocks. The crayon wax preserved perfectly
next to the milk – a spoiled tub of curd. Behind them a case of bacon.
Tubes of yogurt. A jar of grease. Pools of orange popsicle sludge
stuck to the glass shelf, an ant marched in and drank it.
I put the vegetables in a hole under the bedroom window
to grow something. I didn’t care what came out of it
so long as it was fresh.

Jennifer Greenberg is a Florida native pursuing a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida. When not at the office, Jennifer enjoys jazz and writing in her sleep. Her words have been featured in Literary Mama, Homology Lit, Sonder Midwest, Chomp, and forthcoming in Coffin Bell. She also shares poetry and writing opportunities on Instagram and Facebook @legitliterature.
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