Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 51
harvest moon, 2023

Featured artwork, Cheeseburger Picnic, by Chris Mars

new works

Jennifer Fliss

Woman Comma Witch

You say you’ll pray for me.

I say don’t you see the little nooses like party bunting? I say don’t you see the undercooked red velvet cake like non-coagulated blood? I say, here is a baseball bat, I’ll be your piñata.

The fire is going. Glowing blue. Complete combustion of oxygen. It’s when it’s at its hottest, you know. Of course, you know, you have experience with this kind of thing. The charring of flesh, the singeing of hair. The siphoning off of breath.

The sky is a tarp. Do you see any stars? There should be stars. Rip it back, just rip it back. Expose the sky. All those stars, they’re just keeping an eye on me. Bring me my cleaning things, my meaning things. Tell me what to do. You’re so good at it.

I am soft round the middle, see? I touch my belly where a baby might’ve been formed. Where a baby had been formed. I touch my belly and jiggle it, flesh oozes through my fingertips. This skin is not mine. This is not my body bag. You told me it is not mine.

You can’t see? You can’t tell?

Come, look closer. See these lines? Trace them. These roads are forbidden to me. You told me they are forbidden. You told me I could not choose. Choice, I say, and my voice cackles like lightning.

Witch, I say. Bitch, you say. Maybe. Or maybe I am just a mother, here with my broom. Sweeping up after it all. Cleaning the mess. Cleaning your mess. If I carry this domestic implement will that make it true? For you, will that make it true?

Maybe I am just unfamiliar. Maybe I am sick of being your familiar.

Your blessings are knives disguised as flowers.
So I say, god bless you.

Jennifer Fliss (she/her) is a Seattle-based writer whose collection, The Predatory Animal Ball, came out in 2021. Her forthcoming collection, As If She Had a Say comes out in 2023 with Northwestern University Press/Curbstone Books. Her writing has appeared in F(r)iction, The Rumpus, The Washington Post and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter at @writesforlife or via her website, www.jenniferflisscreative.com.