Things we remember years later in our dreams
As a child, I lived in a bathtub. Chipped porcelain printed leaf shapes in my
thighs. I watched the prune tree out the window, imagined swinging like a
fruit. Old wiring flickered a lightning storm on the ceiling. So much murk
in the water it would’ve dirtied any body. Residue from an old flood painted
murals on the walls. I could hear a voice, always, from the other room. It
is time to get out and lukewarm. Baby’s back, soap-scummed spine pressed
to cold clay, pretended to drown. Branches swayed outside and a prune
bruised the ground like the sound of ceramic on bone.
For the first time, I bled but did not cry. I asked my mother about the body
as bread, to first be kneaded, chewed, and torn, remade for tomorrow’s
meal. Is there enough of me to fill the dinner table? Am I allowed to sip spiced
wine? More than worthy of a warm course through my body, I know now.
Lavender oil soaked the pores of the house. My hands turned purple. There
was always food, and I was never really hungry—too concerned with flesh.
A lesson on wreckage: the living room full of dead things and decay under
the sofa. I used to climb the walls to try to escape, but tired too quickly. I
used to fall into bed from such a distance my heart would stop each night.
I swallowed my own tongue and grew gills. Climbed back in the bathtub
and swam away. The prune tree still stands. I see it through some stained
glass window, sanctuary out of reach. The fruit hangs low and sways the
same. Between my legs, leaf-shaped scars bud and branch. A bone breaks
Chloe Forsell is a junior at SUNY Geneseo, double majoring in French and English (creative writing). She hails from a town that, if drawn to scale on a map of New York State, might resemble a fingernail hugging the edge of Lake Erie. Chloe likes to spend her time making Spotify playlists and cooking foods that she doesn’t really know how to cook. Her post-grad plans are largely undetermined.