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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

I like to frame myself, she says
Maybe because it makes me feel flat
Matted things can't grow shadows
And there are already so many things growing out of me

She points to her knees
Where potato eyes have started to spoil
And she lifts her shirt to show me
Nipples wrapped in a sheen of Sancerre mold

Her eyes well up but the water looks dirty
Like its been sitting for a long time
Gathering age, clogged by old soap and egg
At the bottom of a sink

And I know sitting water is dangerous, she says
I wish I wasn’t still
I dream of falling somewhere

Down through every layer of Atmosphere
Cygnus and Vulpecula and Bootes
And being so thin that I catch air like a papergirl-
Rock the rest of the way
Except there is no end and I keep going
Until I am a shadow myself
Not the thing that grows them

In this moment the wind picks up 
Through the ribbed window screen
Hazy with first fall and awkward storm light
Her body jars against the marscapone walls behind her 
As rain smell, animal and open mouthed
Breathes its way down the steps and swallows
Whole and white around my toenails

She says
There is a place where the homes are built and joined like railroad tracks
And things do run across them in the night
Not made of train cars but fishbone instead
Wrapped in happy skin
And the walls are glazed with sugar
Where swamp water is sucked papery and gumming
Into the air
All swollen and pregnant with alabaster
I tell her I know
That i've been
That all the tomato plants there grow big as trees
Because no one knows to shim them
And all their fruits look like ladies
Red and grilled in the Louisiana sun
But no one picks them
They just look with careful “big easy” eyes
And the girls sway in the heat
Begging to be set free
Because its too dry for things to rot here
Instead they preserve and 
“God, don’t let us be stuck here forever.”

The framed girl is quiet from her wood
And eventually says
“That sounds like me”
And I respond yes, but you aren't as beautiful

Outside the trees twist up in the storm wind
A taffy of asbestos haired funnel web pressed 
Against stomach acid
And cumulonimbus legs walking rooted and cropped
By the townhouse windows

She crosses her arms and asks if you can pickle anything
And I respond, I guess so
They just don’t want to keep most that long
If you let them go faster, its easier

She asks, who is “them”
And I say, I guess “them” is us
If we don’t get out of here
And she asks when I'm leaving
And i'm leaving soon
And she asks if i'll take her with me
And I won't
I don't have room
But I wouldn’t care to anyway

The sun breaks Vulpecula’s cloud layer
And comes wringing violent through the window
Smelling of tomato girls
And I press it to the walls with my hands 
Rubbing it like honey and drapey humidity

The framed lady watches me and pulls thinner
Knowing she won’t ever leave because fear is just
As active of a brine
And she's become her own preservative-

I say goodbye
Say, I hope you figure out
That being flat and small 
Isn’t that much safer than being
Full and cloy and going
In some ways, silence might be more dangerous

I can feel every part of my legs as I walk away
Warm and big and cocktail spice
Spinning like the storm wire trees up into dark air
Fishbone and happy skin

And you couldn’t find a single shadow on me
Not a single one


Submitted: September 29, 2018

© Copyright 2021 SophieAPayne. All rights reserved.

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