photo of a woman's upper back

Provocations of a Medium Girl by Laura Grodin

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Her bed is symmetrical, a line down the middle would prove.
Two women, lying side by side, hands woven like a cocoon
of pulsing wrists. A kick from her side reminds her she is not
alone, but part of a painting. Blurred reality in familiar shades,
lips like hers vanishing on the other side.

She used to tell stories and tuck flowers behind her ear,
orange blossoms thirsty for growth. She could hold her breath
under water, fish like, tickle the toes of other children
swatting at bouncing water. The children grew, sprouts
of their mothers and fathers, carrying weight on their shoulders
of dinner tables and shoes. Meals with protein and vegetables
and never ice cream before the last bite. Provocations
left them uneasy.

Now, she can push herself under, defying buoyancy, clinging
to nothing and waiting to be expelled. Counting from one to ten
and back; nothing hides in her closet but a furry coat, stained
with a stench of cigarettes and women draped on the sleeves.
Things stick to her, first those she has passed on the street,
a mistress reading the newspaper, twin girls in tweed.
She’d like to shed a layer and remove the stench,
leaving only fingers and a cloud where her hair once was.

Laura Grodin is a recent graduate of Adelphi University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. A California Native, Laura now resides in Brooklyn, New York. She is a recipient of the 2012 Don Axinn Award in Short Fiction, and her recent work can be seen in The Bookends Review and The Waterhouse Review.

Lead image“Untitled” (via Flickr user alexandria brooke)