Home Improvement by Laryssa Wirstiuk

Painting by Seon-Jeong Kim

Home Improvement

Imagine a blank wall, which is my favorite
city. Maybe with more experience
and the means to travel, I’d change
my mind, but beloved streets lie beneath
the drywall. So here’s the scenario: me
armed with stud sensor from Home
Depot. Let’s pretend that I’m holding
a hammer, threaded anchors, screws.
I’m wanting to mount a photo of you
and you and you and you and you:
collective memories from this city
nailed to the surface of the partition.
The issue is I haven’t kept the images,
not even negatives or empty frames
filled with stock photos of models.
Why bother when you have enemies
like earthquakes, sunshine, neighbors
who shake the ceiling and walls?
I wouldn’t want my memories to fall.
I press the stud finder against the white
paint because I know something’s behind
it. I slide it across my city’s topography
and wait for it to detect what I can’t
see. Beep. It’s me sobbing on the steps
of a sandwich shop because my wallet
has been snatched. Beep. A speakeasy
where I’m sipping cotton candy cocktails
with a man I’ll never see again. Beep.
I’m watching a soccer game to impress
someone scoring all the goals for me.
Drinking beer. Beep. My car’s disappeared
from its parking spot. Beep. In a Beemer
we’re chasing cellular phone thieves.
Beep. I’m moved to tears by a violinist
and sunset in concert. I’m either too tired
or too drunk. Beep. Too drunk to decide
if I prefer the shady or the sunny side.
Please can we cross the street? Beep.
All the vegetarian food I ate to please
my best friend before I stopped eating
meat. Beep. The dirty water hot dog
I could stomach, while he threw up.
Beep. Riding an elevator to the top:
the one-hundred-and second floor,
where I see a panoramic view of you
and you and you and you and you.
Here I’ll hit the nail, mark what carries
the load, maybe hang my heart.

Laryssa Wirstiuk

Laryssa Wirstiuk lives in Jersey City, NJ with her mini dachshund Charlotte Moo. Laryssa’s collection of short stories The Prescribed Burn won Honorable Mention in the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have been published in Gargoyle Magazine, Word Riot, Barely South Review, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. : laryssawirstiuk.com