This time, in maroon and This time, in blue by Olivia Kingery

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This time, in maroon

 

I never remember looking into the mirror as a child. I can remember the mirror so well, the bathroom and the smell of our wood stove and the burgundy tinted air from the wood walls. The frame, still there in the same bathroom on the same wall, is dark maroon with small floral details on the face, which is thin, maybe two and a half inches. 

But again, I can never remember my own face. My face which expanded and relearned its landscape. My hair which has thinned and grown and curled back out. My smile which was gapped and now tries to pull back against where the braces once held me together. 

Okay I lied, I have worked myself into a memory. One single memory of the slope of my forehead and the flush of my cheeks, red even beyond the burgundy tinted air. My knees are pulled to my chest and I am squatting on the counter top, my feet curved with the bowl of the sink. My tooth is loose, a front lower tooth which I can feel is connected to my pinky toes. The pain is bleached white, popcorn igniting in my roots. 

The sight makes me woozy, the fragility of this tooth, so I explore with my tongue, right there in front of the mirror. I see with the hot muscle of my mouth. I close my lips and push the tooth back, then forward, then back, and smile against the indent. 

The snap is small and delicate, bone china meeting glass, or bone meeting bone, or bone meeting the sound we fear most. This is the only memory I have of my face in the mirror of my childhood. Flushed and bloody and alive. 

 

This time, in blue

 

I’m a woman named Tuesday and you’ve loved me since birth. My voice is all broken sticks and satin panties. My face is round. 

This time, in blue, we never look in the eye and the sky is constantly shedding. Flakes land on my shoulders and my stomach and I’m wading in a blue lake who speaks a blue language. This is what she says:

Teeth are expendable objects but a heart never is. Bury yourself in a bottle and moss will choke out everything else, you yourself, will choke out everything else. And when you walk through snow do not be surprised by the frost bite, we were always prepared for the bite. 

Now pucker up, you have to smile when the wind takes the first layer of skin off and you have to sing when it hurts. We’re singing, listen close. 

This time, in blue, we’re focusing on you. Birthed from a river who never knew how to run straight, you scraped the bottom with a rusty pontoon and called it music. Called it the color yellow without ever seeing the color in real life. Skinned an animal from the feet up after your dad brought it home and said dinner. This time, in blue, we both licked our fingers clean and swallowed the dinner plates too.

 

Olivia Kingery grows plants and words in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University, where she reads for Passages North. When not writing, she is in the woods with her Chihuahua and Great Pyrenees.

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