Installation I: A Boat Named January

You cut a line into the wall. It could be cut with a box cutter or an X-Acto knife or a steak knife—it doesn’t matter. You pour liquid metal into the line, injecting it little by little until it solidifies into a life-size image of seven-eighths of a yacht. But the line didn’t begin with the cut; it began when you took out a pen to calculate the difference between the yearly salary of the baggage carrier you saw out the window of a plane in Denver and the salary of his CEO, which came to one large number with many digits and as many spending options as there are different ways to spend an afternoon.

But now you run your finger along a tactile line the color of wet tarmac poured into a lopsided rectangle with rails and decks and windows carved delicately into the drywall. This is the way you’re spending your afternoon, in a gallery, fingering seven-eighths of a Turkish-made yacht, the most expensive model you could imagine because the number was too big, and you needed to get on with your life, and you imagine the CEO has taken the yacht out for the day, and you have gone with him. You watch the light glint off his bald head beneath a sky that couldn’t be more blue. The wall is white like the clouds, but the line is the exact color of the slick tarmac beneath the plane in the airport in Denver, where the rain is currently coming down like cold wet metal, and the baggage carrier bends down to lift and throw a bag, your bag, handles ripping into his palms making calluses like miniature moons.

Your fingers dally over the name of the yacht—is it Jan? No, you realize, its January, but the cross-sectioning has begun, the rain turns to ice in Denver, the bags into iceboxes, the yacht becomes not a yacht, but seven-eighths plus a cut-up chamber that even one year’s salary couldn’t fill. The difference is roughly a million dollars, but it depends on whom you ask and what they need to get by—a year’s worth of bread and milk would not finish the yacht; a year’s worth of mortgage and a child in college, still no yacht.

Perhaps just one more January for the CEO and this line wouldn’t end, leaving a gaping hole, a sinking ship. His day is blue. What color is your day? When you enter the room, you enter it without a yacht, and you leave it without a yacht, too.

Jennifer Metsker received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan and a degree in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently teaches composition and creative writing, as well as writing in art and design at the University of Michigan. She has been published in The Southern Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Sycamore Review, The Cincinnati Review, Cimarron Review, Gulf Coast, and many other journals. She has also had a poem featured on The Verse Daily website. She lives in Michigan.