Christine Tierney

8th floor

do the clumps of snow shivering on the cement ledge does the crushed paper cup or the balled up mottled tissue do the the lulls of consecrated quiet does the bleach spotted johnny slipping off her translucent shoulder does the reality of what she’s done do the strands of glossy auburn hair slipping from the nurse’s coral barrette do her limp burning hands that her mother is forcing me to hold does the barbaric tape hastily clutching that tube against her ivory throat does the awkward swell of meaningless conversation does the hovering winter sun washing over everything in this sterile room do the journals filled with her complexities does the skittish cat that never leaves her side do the lightly crusted gashes on her fleshy upper arms do the teensy quakes of envy buried in my tangled psyche does the knotted silk scarf resting on her mother’s collarbone or the thick stink of vodka and cigarettes on her aunt’s breath does the red bloated kielbasa tongue sleeping on her porcelain cheek does the word attempt mean that there was no intention does the gauzy cotton blanket wrapped around her limp body do the fluttering sparks of life beneath her pallid eyelids does the loosened stitch on my salt stained leather boot do the empty pill bottles lolling at home on her dresser do the swooping gulls or the breathlessly azure sky do the gentle strokes and moistened washcloth on her forehead does the stuck zipper on my pea green coat does the answering machine where she left me that eerie message do the shiny cars parked in little slanted rows?

 

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Gigi in Sunflower Headdress

Gigi buckles something copper under her chin, and sits in front of the mirror,

mesmerized by the sight of herself.

At first her reflection reads featherlicious, all gosling fluffied, lemon zesty, and velvety gamboge sun.

Gigi scootches up close to the mirror and without any provocation whatsoever, each pore on her face opens wide.  She punches a grubby fist inside every dank hovel her face has to offer–

and looks deep inside herself.  Super 8 film footage flashes and blinks.  Gigi sees herself in second grade hiding behind a shivering oak tree in a too-tight nautical one-piece bathing suit that makes her look like a ship.

More flashes.  Gigi catches sight of herself in every other grade–creeping about, watching her Orca step, always on the lookout for places to crawl into–places without light.

Gigi unbuckles lickety-split.  The headdress thunks when it hits the floor. “Back to truth with a heave and a hoe,” Gigi chimes.  “Big, graceless, hide-in-the-bush-me, unable to attract anything but weed whackers and rodents.”