The Waynesboro Middle School Library had exactly three copies of Judy Blume’s 1970
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I don’t remember who read it first, but in all honesty, it
was probably me. (I had the sort of friends that you talked to by the lockers, not the sort of
friends who were actually nice to you, so I read a lot of books to make up for it. It mostly did.)
Regardless of who read it first, though, all of the sixth-grade girls read it one after the other, at
varying speeds. Even at twelve, we’d already been ingrained – somehow, by someone – that our
changing bodies were things to be ashamed of, to talk about in whispers. Boys didn’t need to
know that we bled or that the straps of our new training bras cut our skinny shoulders. But we
knew. And Judy Blume, apparently, knew.
“I finished it,” Therese announced to me when I walked into Mrs. Atwood’s homeroom
science class. She held up the battered library copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I
held myself back from saying finally; Therese was a slow reader. “I love Margaret,” I said. “She
reminds me of me.” Therese laughed and rolled her eyes. She was allowed to wear mascara
already, and her eye-rolling always seemed so much more cutting because of those dark lashes.
“You’re not Margaret. You’re Laura Danker.” It did not occur to me to be offended because now
that she mentioned it, it was probably true. Laura Danker developed more quickly than all the
other girls, and she sat in the front row of all of her classes, and no one wanted to be her friend
because of some combination of those two things.
Say cheese. Let the seven heavens come to your
aid. Touch the sun and kiss the colour of the moon.
Open your window and let it be day. Look for a linen
and a scarlet, stitched by pretty palms of a calm tailor
who shelters his heart like a dove. Snatch the frag--
rance of the sun. Invite the odour of the rain. Lay it
upon your bed. I will be there when the day ages.
I will be there at dawn, before the sky defines itself.
Moon runs through town and village, day and night to deliver letters to their intended recipients.
He is but an empty shell, an envelope sealed off with resin locks without an actual letter in them.
Moon wonders if someone is to write to him, what might they say?
Will they know him enough to have questions? Does he know himself enough to answer them?
Glossary of Korean words:
Jipsin traditional straw sandals
Woomul shallow wells
She was blindfolded
But that wasn’t enough
So they stifled her voice too
In case she should scream for help
When they turned her into
Nothing more than a statue.
Her scales lay rusting in a corner
Until one day a child who had lost
You are fine. Don’t whine.
Just don’t come wagging your depressed tongue
in my face:
You’re not a lost case;
You’re just fine— The everyday kind
Of person that we all are. Don’t come shoving your jar
Of jargons of mental illness. Shut up!
Drain out the funky pills from your cup.
You’re just fine. Trust me, your cliched lines
Of pretentious anxiety and disorders and medical terms--
They don’t fit into my vernacular, and I confirm
That you are thriving just as well. Put aside the tall tales
Of cringe-worthy openness about your situation--
Now that’s the word you use too often!
The new pair of panties is covered in a thick red liquid. The sound of flushing is loud, and the
chatter of girls dissipates to nothing.
Her bag is empty, gone, of all its contents. Toilet paper is thin and barely does the job, soaking up
the red liquid like a desperate sponge in water. Toilet paper dries her up and scratches her legs.
She looks at the metal bin and its gaping mouth and its sharp teeth. It taunts her with bolded
black numbers 25¢. Her fists punch against the metal bin. Her hand is covered in red liquid. The
metal bin clatters to the floor with a clang and white packets litter the floor. The greedy girl picks
up the packets and stuffs them in her bag, leaving some for the next victim of thick red liquid.
It is the look in another woman’s eyes
when you tell her that it has finally happened to you.
The story we’ve heard countless times,
of the monsters with angel faces,
of the night we all dread.
It is an unspoken conversation;
she won’t interrupt you, but
you know she understands.
Because you look into her eyes,
and see that she has the same
story to tell.
Matti lives in Eugene, Oregon, and when she is not writing poetry you can find her wandering aimlessly outside with her Bernese mountain dog. She is working on her debut chapbook, which she hopes to publish soon, and her work appears or is forthcoming in The Raven Review and Stone Pacific Zine.
Her ribs poke through her shirt,
all she can fit is size extra-small. She gets worried looks as she walks down the street and
feels a sense of triumph.
Another, wears testaments of her own
Wearing it like a badge of honor. Each struggle to showcase the highest degree of
Snow pauses in its flight
and 50,000 ropes dig into my neck.
Torture is cut and buried in my body.
They make prey of me.
Severed trees groan under the weight
of their own smoke;
the burden of my dark bones.
They make fuel of me.
The air is pregnant with death, my dear,
but I will begin again--
Alorah Welti (she/her) is a Minnesota-born feminist, synesthete, poet, and artist. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, lavender bones, Rejection Letters, Lit. 202, and elsewhere. She is one of the poetry editors for The Cloudscent Journal and is a recipient of the Daniel Manacher Prize for Young Artists. She lives on stolen Mohican and Wabanaki land, just north of North Adams, Massachusetts, with her family. You can find her on Twitter at @alorahsky.
She made it look so easy She made it look so easy
to leave without turning back to say goodbye and cut the ties
though it's harder than it seems five loose threads all spread
if you love something let it go . across the living room floor
but we had barely any time . as they cried, little hands stretched
to grow before we were out for one last hold only to be told
tossed aside out of sight and “Be mommy’s strong girl” while
out of mind. their entire world crumbled.
Mel Eaton is a non-binary student at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. They are majoring in creative writing and film study. They have previously been published in, Eloquence: 2015 Poetry Collection, Anvil and Lyre 2020, Oneiroi 2022, Windfall 2022 and Windfall 2023. Mel has worked alongside Green Hills Literary Lantern as a general editor and plans to go to Denver Publishing Institute to further their education in publishing and editing for small literary journals.
I am made of intersections
where each light just changed to yellow,
which is to say: I must make choices;
which is to say: stop or go;
which is to say: fight or flight
because freeze is not an option.
But sometimes the choice is already made,
which is to say: I’m second-born;
which is to say: I’m the second first-born;
which is to say: I’m the second mother;
which is to say: I’m never far from home,
Little Icarus, fly on
your small sparrow wings
away from the nest
that was once all you knew.
Weave through the labyrinth
of twigs and leaves
and soar on a breeze
that takes you higher
than these treetops
holding you captive.
I hope you heal.
I don’t know why things happen. I’ve never figured it out.
I’ve tried to inform myself, do the research, write the essays and you still find me at a loss.
And I know I don’t know you. I know you don’t know me. But something connects us all, and in
that I feel you.
I feel the time he mistreated you, and called you crazy. Maybe you felt it worse than you should
have, because you felt my experience too. I’m sorry.
And I love the way that sounds. We throw the word ‘bitch’ around in a way we shouldn’t. I’m always directing her back to the shit, the cheese, the rubbish, to avoid my looming apology sticking out like darts in my face. The opposite of acupuncture. I know it wants attention and I know it hurts but Taylor, this shit, this cheese, this rubbish, it’s all so important is it not? So pressing, so urgent, so ‘like the other girls’.
Oh I can’t look at her. I fawn over pictures of her cats and ask after her family and lean in on dramatic cues but I know she’s bouncing her leg and talking in time with the clock. She knows and I know, but good apologies take time, do they not? If I take another sip of my tea my mouth will be full and I can’t help that. And if I finish a fifth biscuit then I’ll need more tea to wash it out of my teeth and my mouth will be full again. My mug keeps refilling even though I need a wee and I know what I’m here to say.
today i collected apple seeds for their cyanide
and put them in a bowl i stole from the kitchen.
i pushed my head to the ground and waited
for God to give me a pestle, be a receptacle
for my death. i wanted a glimpse of heaven,
for one moment i wanted to step off the dirt
and raise my calf past all the mountains
and scream at the things i left behind.
You told me to meet you here;
9:00 in December. Impenetrable sky.
I saw you shaking in the cold,
and we were only strangers then,
both atop a little hill that
I first thought a mountain.
I remember the jeering wind,
jacketless to keep it from you.
It wasn’t long before the fireflies,
and this was the best spot to watch,
you said. They would erupt,
like fog washing across the land,
were the most traumatized /
I used to swallow their stories with all the ease /
of an untrained fire-eater /
their residue, secondhand spit
The most beautiful women I’ve known /
were the most traumatized--
and me with them /
does that make me beautiful, too?