Excerpt # 1 from Notes on an Orange Burial
At 5’ 8”, 145 pounds, and often wearing house slippers, Jona had the ability to scale even the creakiest of wooden steps without making a sound. Even when heavy with rejection, as he often was following a visit to his mailbox in the building vestibule, Jona moved like a panther. His shaven head and small, thin face added to his sleekness. Only his ears, which refused to lay back, and his brown eyes, which due to small lids and frequent wincing were rarely fully exposed, detracted from his felinity—that and the fact that he rarely landed squarely upon his feet after a fall.
During Jona’s slow ascent up the stairs, silent except for the sound of a few cockroach exoskeletons crackling beneath his slippers, Jona thought of Sylvia Plath, as he often did to cheer himself up. Jona was born six years to the day of the extraordinary poet’s suicide, and thus always felt connected to her in a morose way that worried his family, especially when, during a month-long phase in ninth grade, he insisted on dressing like her. Sylvia’s mesmerizing book, Ariel, was the main reason Jona decided to become a poet. Not only did he identify strongly with the brilliant allusions and intense lyricism found in her work, he saw numerous similarities in his and Sylvia’s childhood and formative years. Several examples:
• Sylvia grew up in Massachusetts; Jona’s favorite dessert as a young boy was Boston cream pie.
• Sylvia had a younger brother; Jona would have had a younger brother had his older sister been born much later and with a penis.
• Sylvia’s father died of complications from a foot infection brought on by diabetes; Jona’s father, too, had feet.
The only major difference Jona could see in their lives was that Sylvia ended hers. Not that Jona was averse to such a dramatic exit. On the contrary, he often imagined his own suicide: Him wandering Plath-like down a dark blue hallway into the kitchen, disrobing, stuffing a towel under the kitchen door, and then walking without fear or doubt over to the oven, only to experience a bitter sense of defeat upon remembering that his apartment wasn’t equipped with gas.