by a contributor

Rebecca Hanssens-Reed

If I was tossing and turning last night, it was because I was walking through my parents’ rotting garden again, looking at the overgrown rhubarb. An old friend was there, but only ever visible from the side or walking behind him. Then I became a teenager and you were a child and I was running after you. You snuck into the aquarium and lived in the shark tank, on top of jagged rocks and a waterfall. The sharks were also babies. Yesterday the rain fell thick and heavy like mud. The house I live in is mostly a hallway, sometimes with bare feet in it. At the wedding there were so many darlings. The light was shining deceivingly. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw the bridesmaids’ snarling snouts, their teeth sharp and glinting. You play with my realities like you finger the change in your pocket, speaking in tongues, or are you just sneezing? My head has been buzzing for days, or maybe only minutes. Before I go out I put on my selves like a pleated skirt, for instance, do you happen to have tweezers? Some things are still left to the imagination, like who this cat actually belongs to, what it is fed and why I think I belong here more than this cat. It seems unnatural to be this far away from my mother. In the afternoons I excrete something less like perspiration and more like a damp heat and nervousness. Homesick is when you miss how you sweat in a place. When you forget where you are until you step into the warm shower, feel the scent of wet earth and body rise out of you, remember that you are human. Other times all you are is an open wound. There are cliches I don’t mind, like whispering onto a highway, and by now everything exists and is subject to manipulation. And, for the record, I can flatten the landscape with a wave of my hands, catch red glass on my knee, and make you want me again.

Rebecca is a writer and translator whose work can be found in Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Saint Ann’s Review and The Reader. She is currently at work on a translation of Jorge Ángel Pérez’s book of short stories, They’re Not So Elegant in Havana. She works at an organic bakery and is successfully growing her first tomato plant in Northampton, MA.

See more poetry from Rebecca tomorrow.