A Child Stood Still for the Time It Takes to Fill a Bath

— Anthony Anaxagorou

With the tip of my elbow dipped in I float the yellow duck just to be sure. 37º flashes a solid green. The story goes: My uncle made his son sit in a bathtub of ice water for a whole half hour. His teeth chattering at such a rate they say they ruptured his mouth. The water around your belly quickly unlocks. Opening. Your body still dubious until it trusts. The punishment itself never appalled me, more the thought of what a father decides to do with himself during the time his ten-year-old son is sat in a tub of ice water. Aside from check his watch. And wait.

I’m your father and the only person keeping you alive. In the mirror I trace your name until both our faces burst out the other side. You will have no memory of this. At the end of every Bruce Lee film my cousins and I would claim a character, re-enact the most epic scene. Fantasy finding a way to travel up and towards. Michael forced a cushion over my face long enough to turn the world off. When I came back round my uncle had a hand around his throat. Dragging him into the bathroom. Ice cubes rattling like milk teeth inside a tank’s hatch. A turn. The sound of six rivers sinking for another hundred years.

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