Shish Kabob – Ruth Daniell

I married young, we met first year in college and got hitched right after we graduated and I remember feeling like I was going to burst but I did not burst, I was just pierced through with love. It reminds me of a commercial for Science World where this guy in a lab coat takes this fully-inflated blue balloon and then skewers it with a big wire so that it’s like a balloon shish kabob. It should just pop, you’d think it’d go BANG and there’d be bits of balloon pieces just everywhere but the guy in the lab coat dips the wire in dish soap first which acts as this kind of lubricant, I guess, which makes it so that when he pierces the balloon the wire goes in one end and out the other without the whole thing popping. That is what it was like to fall in love with Gary. I thought I was happy enough before but when we met it was like my heart got all light, like a balloon, pierced right through without breaking at all. I spent the past four years walking around, with this balloon in my chest held together with soap, my feet grazing the air as I walked, because my balloon-heart wanted to float up into the sky or at least into a tree where it could tangle with branches and cherry blossoms.

At the party I had too much wine so I went out to get some fresh air and stand beneath the cherry blossom tree. Mila came out to check on me.  She is really pretty, she has this long blond hair like Rapunzel, and she is going to get married next year. I am happy for her because she and Sam are meant to be together and then I thought about how Mila is bisexual and I wanted to ask her if she will miss kissing girls. No, she said, she won’t, and then she laughed and asked if I miss kissing girls. I told her Gary and I met young and have always been together and I have never kissed a girl. I didn’t even know I had started to touch Mila’s hair but I guess I had had a lot of wine and I suddenly realized I was really, really close to Mila and I was twirling her hair around my fingers and I was close enough that I could smell her, and she smelled like soap, which reminded me of the soap that was keeping my balloon heart from bursting, and then she kissed me. You know what’s really dumb about that Science World commercial? They show you the trick with the dish soap and skewering the balloon and how it doesn’t pop, that the experiment works, and then they pop the balloon anyways. They get another wire and poke the balloon right in its centre. Just to shock you. You’re lured into this sense of false security and then everything breaks apart anyway.

Ruth Daniell is a Canadian poet, fiction writer, performer, and teacher. She is also the editor of Boobs: Women Explore What It Means to Have Breasts (Caitlin Press, 2016). Previous work has appeared in journals across Canada and worldwide, including Arc Poetry Magazine, Grain, Canthius, The Antigonish Review, and Contemporary Verse 2. She is currently at work on a collection of poems with the support of a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. You can visit her at

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