Issue Two: May 23, 2019
I had to block out the light
Cover the windows hide reflections
light bouncing off snow blue all over
a bit of pale pink inside feeling of flesh
and so cold return to the womb room and rest
eyelids no match for this brightness
but close my eyes and imagine the maps and trees
we traveled a long way on foot
to reach this place scent of leather and sweat
hair tangled, skin torn
hide in the cave of sleep
brain awash in medicine pray
My life now: a white room
I wake early, rearrange a few small objects
on the white desk. Roll over in the white sheets.
My bruises stark against the pale backdrop.
Do I feel confined?
Clean slate, blank canvas upon which to draw
my body. There is a slight sheen to the walls.
I push against them, expecting some give,
as though I were inside something organic.
I place and replace images on the walls.
Black marks on a white page,
Page of my bed, my body curved punctuation
desire the weather in this room to which I have
The layout of my family’s first apartment
corner bedroom cold
wind ripping through thin walls
the peeling lilied wallpaper. The bathroom
in the basement, where we were afraid to go.
Downstairs dog bones, spiders,
and the ghost of memories—
the morning twilight of childhood, when our underwear
was removed, soiled, hidden in the corner,
under the stairs.
The neighbor’s room above the garage.
When my bike skidded out on the gravel at the end
of the driveway, and I broke my leg,
You stood above me,
drying your hands on a kitchen towel,
asking me where it hurt,
telling me to show you. The words
wouldn’t work. You picked me up.
Your hand on my bottom. You tried to
find my mother. You brought me in your
garage. The smell of oil, sawdust, something
I couldn’t yet identify.
Valerie Wetlaufer is the author of Mysterious Acts by My People, winner of the Lambda Literary Award, and Call Me by My Other Name. Valerie works at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.