C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

Why The Long Face?

By: Kelsey Frank


So I’m at Target returning a set of sheets, because the

fitted one isn’t deep enough and the purple isn’t purple enough, and

the girls chattering away behind me, their dishes aren’t clean enough, so

the dish soap is being unpurchased, too. It’s strange, isn’t it?

This undoing, rewinding your own life as you see fit,

like maybe I should walk out of here backwards. And

then I could uneat all that ice cream, so

that I could unworry about it or how my jeans fit.

In my universe of reverse, dessert comes after the guilt, so that it

actually is dessert. Imagine that. Or, in the

mind’s eye, fast-forward-rewind six years: it

is July, a Saturday afternoon, sunny and hot. Most of the

2006 SHS graduating class, in their finest blacks, watch and

wait as we unearth the box, dust it off. Dads, stepdads, they

fit coffin curve to shoulder and (walking backwards, mind you) carry, so

gently, our friend. At the hospital, artist surgeons fit

the delicate, velvet bits of him back together, stitch him whole. The

pen peels back cursive from certificate, machines plug in, light up. It

is late; nearly early. At Pine Point beach, candles flicker to life and

we draw fuming panic and weed smoke from the wet, heavy air as I, so

calmly, explain to that girlfriend of yours how fucking ridiculous it is to tattoo the

name of one still living to your ankle. A little silver gun hums and

siphons ink from skin. The sun unsets. Somewhere in Buxton, where the road fit

to the world’s curve, a bashed Camry uncrumples itself. It

pulls the gash back from the tree, and so

quietly pauses, for one forever-long second, as the

body of a 19-year-old boy sails feet-first through the air, and

through the glitter-smashed windshield, into the passenger seat. It is so

nice, this backwards universe of mine, and maybe it’s stupid but truthfully, it

just seems more real than what’s real. The thought of you whole and alive just fits

the way old receipts can be gripped to fit the contours of your fist, and so

when I snap back to forward and hand this over to the cashier

she seems relieved, sends me off with a 20 and a nice afternoon, before

clicking off the aisle light, punching out, and heading off towards Applebee’s for lunch.

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