Marlin M. Jenkins is a student of creative writing at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, minoring in Black studies and professional & technical writing. His poetry and fiction have appeared in SVSU’s art and literature magazine, Cardinal Sins, as well as in Glass Mountain Magazine, Squalorly, and The Molotov Cocktail. He is also the winner of the 2011 Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival poetry slam.
He steps onto the lawn like he’s going to buy the yard, glass trinkets shattering under his unlaced work boots. He’s just come from the bottle return and, cash in hand, he filters through everything he decides he isn’t looking for: bare lamp post, assorted lamp shades, toilet paper, old shoes, broken compass. Children’s toys that he’d once had and thrown away.
Three women sit by the front door in lawn chairs. The two older women murmur, point, scratch sweaty earlobes. The younger woman rolls her eyes. His eyes flirt with her. He knows she’s examining his boots. The muddy laces drag across the grass. Soles imprint moist spots as he walks toward her with what he’s found: a hand crank snow cone maker. The tongues of the boots flop forward. She pulls up the neckline of her shirt.
She remains sitting when he pays her for the snow cone maker.
He cranks the machine with his hands, grinds fruit and ice together into seedy clumps. He starts with strawberries, leaves still attached. He tries whole oranges.
Every night, snow cones. Sometimes, he skips the fruit and just uses ice. He tries ice cubes made of ginger ale. He makes snow cones from cookie dough. He dumps in old pictures and eats them with blue raspberry flavoring. He grinds down mail. Eventually, he works in the change from under the sofa cushions. He picks the fillings from his teeth, grinds them up in the next batch. Then the boots, steel toes, laces, and all.