A Misplaced MemoryIrina Oren (Wilcox…Oren-Wilcox?) glows, inside and out. Having just arrived for her own wedding reception (my wedding, she kept saying to herself, with increasing hysteria), she kisses Michael enthusiastically on both cheeks and the lips and, apologizing profusely to everyone, rushes to the ladies' room to get her first elated look at herself as a married woman.
The restroom is way too big, way too lavender, and way too plush for a restroom. The mirror is floor-length and takes up the entire wall beside the prissy row of sinks. Her eyes flit around her own reflection. Flushed cheeks – check. Lace and little flowers – check. Golden band on fourth finger of the left hand – check. She practices flashing her wedding smile. White teeth – check. Perfect posture – check. Empty eyes – check. Fuck. There it is again. That politician's wife smile. That ugly disappointment and plastic happiness.
She doesn't understand it. Her joy had felt so alive in tha
InsomniaYou asked me how I felt
as I sat below you in my thoughts
and I confessed to you my dread
that I had broken something beautiful.
I sat on the curb for hours
in the embryonic morning
and the city told me its secrets:
A woman walking backwards
through the alleyways, determined
toward a destination she could not see;
a man sitting in the road, his bare chest
caved and heaving in the humidity.
Later, I returned to the place
where the broken pieces lay
And I pulverized them beyond recognition,
having realized that they meant nothing to me.
StuckI have begun to write in pen
Day after day
of dirty rumination
I am not yet ready for the universe.
I have chosen to sit outside today
and deny myself the comforts
of an enclosed and lonely space.
The red-brown trees, shedding
droplets of water and showers
of snow. The white sun reaching
out of the black tangle of arms.
A strand of spider silk, stretched
between the cracked wooden pickets
of my perch. My feet on the planks,
shifting in the dirt and ash and pine needles
filthy and pink from the sharp air,
which nudges gently at the encasement,
pushes through to me,
unsettles the coat of dullness
that has held me under
for months now.
StarbrightGood night, late spring.
The sun's already sunk
far behind the hill
with the willow,
the last of the light
fighting over the crest,
eclipsed by the leaves'
I dream of rain.
of the sky,
and it chokes
on my phantom
I have seen
my last sun
the world's requiem
before the night's first star
awakens in the southwest,
breaking the matte darkness,
betraying my conceit.
Catgirl and Other DetailsAt four years old, I am a cat. I wear my ears day and night. They are perky and cardboard. Sometimes I also wear a tail and whiskers. But not today. I meow and walk on my knees. But not today. I don't understand purring yet.
The teacher is an older, stout, frowny woman with cropped gray hair and lines around her mouth. She says garbazh because it makes her sound French (or so she jokes, perhaps, I cannot tell at this time) and once advised us to hold our scissors inward when we run with them, so as to stab ourselves instead of others in the event of a collision. She runs snack-time on a strict capitalist system the big kids always get there first, but You Get What You Get. It's her cross-armed singsong chant. Orange slices, hot dogs, dirt in a cup, nothing. You Get What You Get.
I'm not a cat anymore today. The teacher told me that I have to be myself, and I'm not sure what that is, but I guess it's not a cat.
Stick Your Head In GravyI'm still cute with my hair pulled back in a frizzy halo, white wool and jeans and little sneakers. I climb up on top of the bookshelf to show off and feel deeply ashamed when someone figures me out. I decide not to talk for the rest of the day.
I cried in the morning when they dropped me off, although I'm no longer sure why. When they take us to see the animals, I cling to my snotty tissue, trying to keep the tears running as long as I can stand. It's a struggle not to giggle and sacrifice self-pity when a sheep eats the nasty rag right out of my hands.
The turkey is a formidable beast, its proud chest puffed and its ugly head jutting with dumb curiosity as it waddles my way. Don't Stick Your Finger In The Turkey Cage, Megan! The teacher reprimands my friend, and I know right away that I have to do it. I tentatively poke a tender finger toward the fat bird. It pecks, as is its nature, and I cry, as is mine.