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  • Self-Portrait as The Other Girl, and: Self-Portrait, From A Distance, Without The Other Girl
  • Molly McCully Brown

Self-Portrait as The Other Girl

Sometimes I see lovelier versions of my body going bad: girl sleepingin the high grass of a winter field. Girl with her fist in her mouth,gnawing her knuckles to mica. Girl as a a music box whistling weird lullabies,a well waiting to be filled with water, a safe place for rabbits to be born.Girl buried in snow. Girl carried off by bats. Girl as a sail with the wind let outlain down like a starched white sheet. Girl as a bell the storm is ringing overand over again. There is no good way to talk about pain, how it meansyou are only ever kissing the image of someone's face in a pond, hearing theirvoice through the feeble connection of the last working pay phone in the townwhere you were born, weighing less than two hundred nickels, too smallfor your father's hand. Girl split down the middle and re-sewn. Girl pullingstitches from the backs of her legs. Girl bleeding into plaster. Girl who cannotkneel in church. Girl tearing herself apart. No, no, Girl as a floating piano.Girl as a blue clam boat. Girl as a dove you can carry in your mouth withoutcausing a bruise. Girl as the feather couched in your cheek. Girl as a small fire.Girl as just another heartbeat. Girl who will not call one more awful thing into the world. [End Page 13]

Self-Portrait, From A Distance, Without The Other Girl

In the broken motel fridge, the peaches spoil slow as his handsin her hair while the tub fills with water. The worldis quiet as her slip there on the chair, quiet as skin.

Somewhere, in the wilderness of the Atlantic, an oysteris building a pearl to shield itself from damage.

He wants to know what hurts, slowing where they cut her openwith his mouth pressed to the chaos on her spine.The neat coves that his teeth carve in her back will fade by morning.

She's in love with this idea that some bodies make brightnessa means of survival, the same way she's in love with the thought of a waltz,

the same way she's in love with the woman beside her on the train this morningwho fell asleep with her lips half-parted and the collar of her shirt peeled back,and then just collected herself like a shift in the weather and went.

Whatever is graceful, she wants. Whatever makes the light keep insistingthrough the drawn blinds, she wants. Above her, his ribcage is a wire house,

a balloon refusing to believe in gravity. Her hands move easy on his face.Later, she will crawl from the bed in search of the peaches, and, waitingfor her body to forget the effort, she'll watch him and pretend the pit into a pearl,holding the heavy thing stock still inside her mouth until it shines. [End Page 14]



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pp. 13-14
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