My mother & father are both chemists. They light their ranch-style home with Bunsen burners & drink from glass beakers. They created the universe in 1968 when they dripped one foul-smelling chemical into a clear chemical that smelled like ice & formed my brother. The universe was a small apartment in South Side Chicago. My Aunt & Uncle lived downstairs inside a camera lens.
Each morning my mother & father would drip chemicals from an eyedropper into a frying pan & the chemicals became French toast. When I was five they created a city that they called New Orleans. They created fire ants & water moccasins. When I was ten they created a new kind of bone that breaks.
My mother & father, the chemists, stayed up late every night mixing chemicals into new creations, their goggles steaming up with concentration. They created tall neighbors with cigarettes & dry hands. They created aboveground pools with blue plastic sides. Toilets full of urine. Collies. New hats. Things I could never have imagined appeared every morning like tents.
When I clip my nails I watch the clippings dissolve immediately into chemicals. Likewise with cut hair. When I die I will prove my mother & father correct. The chemicals into which my body will wilt will be stored on a wooden shelf in brown bottles with rubber stoppers. I had a perfect moment of clarity in the back of Mike Bunn's car while Pittsburgh unfolded into a paper swan. Even this I know they created with chemicals.
There was a shining new bike. There was a dog that jumped into my bed. There was a red bottle. A set of nun-chucks. A yellow dress. Every new thing made me cry tears of bromine, which immediately evaporated. It was a laboratory. I was a child.