By Katie Kendall
She takes me out for dinner just to watch the waitress undo her sugar hair behind the kitchen door. That’s the kind of girl I like, she says. I don’t remember when I stopped trying to become myself. I watch the waitress, her smallness, her curves.
I wonder how I’d look in her apron, with her bones in my body,
When we woke, the fitted sheet had come away and pooled around our feet. It was too small for the bed.
It wasn’t right.
You complained about how many times I woke you in the night.
the little prince
She takes me to the bookshop in the mid afternoon. The shelves frame her like art as she wanders. The books lean down and whisper the smell of home. There’s a messy wash of yellow light catching the ends of her hair and bouncing off her rings.
We were there looking for a book, and now it’s been months since she’s mentioned it.
She buries love quickly; she forgets what it was that she was loving.
The story of our bodies in the car with the radio whispering sounds better if you had already left her.
I fill the bath to the edge, let a little water splash over it as my body sinks under the writhing heat. I force my skin to stomach the sting. Within minutes, what was burning feels almost cool.
All the heat rushes up into my cheeks.
Maybe this is what you meant when you said it doesn’t feel the same anymore when you touch me.
While my mother lay sleeping in the hospital bed, sewed into tubes and wires, she promised to call.
I spent the weekend by the phone. I spent the weekend by my mother’s bedside. I walked through the gutted hollows of the home I used to know, empty without my mother, without my brother–
everything was cavernous.
I needed to be filled with her; I needed to know I could hear her voice and swell like I used to. I wonder who she slept beside that weekend, I wonder whose bed she made feel full. After dinner, I knew she was forgetting me and I burned my body down in the shower–
loneliness is poisonous.
When I got out, I dried myself slowly, brushed my teeth, and looked into the mirror. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t see myself. I slept in my mother’s bed and pulled the covers over my head. I slept with the phone on loud–
no one called.
Down low in the wall my voice was shaking. We opened or came apart. The two things are almost the same. The first girl opened like
the bottle, the hinges, the tomb.
She called me crying to tell me she missed me but to remind me she was not going to change anything. So I came apart like
excuses, pulled threads, long tattered love notes swallowed by the rain.
There was so much rain.
When the winter ended I was so thin I could see my ribs. I made a harp of my ribs. I made music of becoming thinner, imagined some day she’d wrap just one finger all the way around my waist.
She loves big girls.
I get smaller.
I get smaller, and smaller, and want her more.
The next time she took my clothes off she dragged her strings across my open bones. There’s nothing to hold in all that empty.
I gave her back my ribcage.
We both agreed a gift should come in a box. I tied a ribbon too.
Under the ribbon, a note:
this does not protect me, anymore.
This is the form of the body. She must have an end.
She tells me to keep eating and I push my food around. I’m not hungry. Hunger slipped away months ago. Instead I’ve been eating because I am supposed to. Each day waking, and going out, and calling my mother because I’m supposed to.
I take another bite because she remains calm when she thinks I’m fine. I’m holding her up to the light while her shadow chews me.
I can’t swallow.