CW: sexual assault, substance use (for best viewing on mobile, rotate your device)
i learned the rules of fermentation in the summertime while paddle-stirring the honeydew cantaloupe pineapple greenapple dissolving into buckets of white wine and peach schnapps. we deemed it sludge fit only for dish-pit sink drains after five or six days dragged in and out of heat.
one august night i snapped the neck of a flower-vase pitcher pouring sangria into glasses tableside. come memorial day, requests trickled then flooded for this light gold peachmelon nectar and as baltimore july drifted in with the horseflies, i poured bucket after bucket into grates once everyone
remembered this was the wrong kind of sweet. this was the cloying venom that stowed away under tongues to be drawn out of crevices later, when the sun goes down and the neons peppering the orange-cast streets shine lights paint age on my face. the night i snapped the pitcher neck, i didn’t bleed just then, but later and from elsewhere besides my hands. tucked into a dim red corner bathroom stall pressed to a stranger’s body, i became the aqua vitae. i became the sweating vase of chablis and fruit, satin on palates and sugar sticking to hands. after ten minutes, i am sink drain sludge. i am the wrong kind of sweet.
nat raum (b. 1996) is a queer disabled artist and writer from baltimore, md. they hold a bfa in photography and book arts and are a current first-year mfa candidate at the university of baltimore. nat is also the editor-in-chief of fifth wheel press, a queer literature and art publishing space. find them online: natraum.com/links.