I Lost My Orgasm, Hobart
Maybe I dropped it as I struggled to hold the box of Munchkin donuts and the lukewarm cup of coffee in my hands that I brought for you. Even after you told me not to. Even after you told me you needed space. I watch you now, my back barely touching your front door that still hasn’t shut all the way, allowing the last of the summer flies to creep in. You grip your phone against the hard line of your mouth, pacing the hallway between your living room and the kitchen like an ensnared animal. I want to look between my feet, by the front door behind my sweating back, because I know it’s here somewhere, but I can’t take my eyes off you. Even now, as you continue to act like I don’t exist, even as you’re yelling so loud into your phone CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE that there are specks of spit flying out of your mouth, you still mesmerize me.
Remember what your mother told you. Take your plain pink panties off and put on the lace thong—yes, the one with the red bow. Speaking of red, smear the tube of red on your lips, make them pop. Smack your lips together a few times. Spray the body perfume you bought from Victoria’s Secret and walk into it. Spray, walk. You smell like hot candy. You look like cool heat. You hit the sidewalk like a suit on Wall Street. Approach the car window and lean in, but not too far. Squeeze your elbows into your waist; your tits look bigger when you do this. Say something clever. Don’t sound too dumb, don’t sound too smart. Name your price. Stick to it. Don’t break eye contact. When the car door opens slide inside, your skin sticking to the hot polyester like a BandAid. Stay cool when his hand grabs your knee. Smile big. Show your teeth. When he starts to drive make sure to keep track of the scenery passing by. He doesn’t tell you his name, but he asks for yours. Tell him your name is Candy. Smile again when he licks his lips. Act like you enjoy his hand running up your skirt. Feel your smile start to fade when he pulls over and reaches behind him, shows you the coil of rope and grins.
baby, baby, Literary Orphans
I want to fall in love
with someone who promises
to catch me
before the wind pushes me
right over the edge
Swears it’s the sugar in my tea
that makes it taste funny.
Tells me baby, baby, shhh
they know this road and its curves
like the back of their hand
while my curves rest
in their hands
as they let go of the wheel and promise
to swallow me whole.
Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock, Hobo Camp Review
Someone sat you on their lap, held you in place. The sun pins itself in the sky, abandons you at night. If it weren’t for morning you would stay on the floor. A cold spot in your bed where no one sleeps. Hunger is more than sustenance, why feed yourself? It’s safer to count stars than people. A stranger outside the door you never let in. They leave notes with one word: salvation, desire, hope. You burn them, watch as the birds freeze in flight. Believe in omens. The warm spot in your chest as something more.
Bang, Snap! Cease, Cows
I think about the farm—the land out back of my bedroom window the morning after it snows. A million crystals embroidering the yard like one of Mama’s quilts. How it burns my eyes to look at them all at once. I want to crawl into my bed and pull the covers over me so no one can see me. I want to hug Mama and say goodbye to Joey. I want to tell Papa that I’m sorry. I need to tell him I’m still his little girl, but sometimes true love finds you in the emptiest of places.
I was told children are more resilient than we think. Eventually, I began to reorganize my life much as I would a flash fiction story: I started at the point of action and focused on a single moment in time. I didn’t allow myself to become overwhelmed by too much detail. I kept everything short and sweet. I realized the impact of all the unknowns in my life. The possibility—even today—of losing my son to epilepsy. How frightening and yet how important the absences in our lives can be.
The Difference Between a Raven and a Crow, The Airgonaut
Farmers can’t speak of the storms in my heart. I never told my father I can sense a person’s death. I am relieved when the neighbor dies in his sleep. His heart gave out before the fire ate its way into his house. My father took me camping when I was ten. Before we could pitch our tent, the wind kicked up and rain came down, hard as fists. I watched our tent blow away while my father gave chase towards the swollen river. I saw a fawn struggling in the rapids as a doe paced the riverbank. My father let our tent blow by him as he sized up the whitewater, contemplating the jump.
*Header photo by Hillary Leftwich copyright 2019