A Dress of Shadows
The roller coaster girl joins me at the campfire after the fair. Wind in her hair, she touches my arm, says Call me Storm. I offer her edible gummies. Ask her what it's like to be free. It's like this, she smiles, kissing me until I'm a cloud in her mouth.
The party has started but she pulls me aside to ask about God. I tell her I'll ruin her, but she clings to me anyway. Holds my face between her palms and promises to protect me until the last lie is told.
Storm moves in. Stashes her yesterdays in my secret places: jellybean jars, floor cracks, a painting. She fits her thirteenth birthday into Matryoshka dolls. It becomes the day before, and the day before that. Smaller and smaller until the day she was born and had no secrets.
One afternoon, Storm wakes me to tell me I am disappearing. My fingernails are holes. My pupils, air. Each day a new piece of me goes missing. Today, she points, my hair is empty. She stitches patches of sun over my gaps. Sews a dress made of shadows. Replaces all my skin with scotch tape. No one will notice, she laughs, her needle teeth glinting.
Storm dies young, leaving a poem unfinished on her desk. Stretching awake, the poem limps through my house searching for its author. For years it looks for its missing words, ignoring me, stepping over spiders until, exhausted, it collapses. The spiders' descendants nurse Storm's poem back with words they wove for it.
I dream of Storm in forest-green. Roots through her toes. A river, giggling in her hair. Healing freckles of rain on her skin. Her lungs are moth and sparrow breast. Blue eggshells hold her brain. Her arm grows through my bedroom window. Pierces my nape and wraps around my spine.
grew up in South Africa and England, and now lives in Canada. In addition to Gone Lawn
, her work is published in Crab Creek Review, New Ohio Review, Typehouse Literary, Bear Review, Milk Candy Review
. Her manuscript "Good Mother Lizard" won The Headlight Review chapbook contest and will be published in late 2022 as her first poetry book. She's on Twitter @LotusTongue