I wore a plaid jacket and sensible pumps. I wore Odor Eaters and arch supports. I wore braces to straighten my snaggled teeth. I wore my twin set buttoned shut. My legs crossed themselves without question. I said my thumb slid while I was shaving. I said the cat scratched me. I said the cat scratched me again. I sealed each snag in my hose with nail polish. Even in gym, I never ran. I said good when asked how are you. I checked each equation four times. I said there were safety pins holding up my hem and one unlatched itself to prick me. I sorted my clothes according to color, according to use. White became rose became black. I said my foot slipped while I was shaving. I said my leg slipped while I was shaving. I was a raised hand and pressed pleats. I was a fist beneath the desk’s lap. I was two pills and a full glass of water. My nails carved moons in my arm. I said it was an accident. I said I didn’t mean to, the blade just slipped. I folded tissues to neat squares, held them beneath the faucet and then wiped my face. I held the washrag under cold water until it lost all evidence of history, of use. Red became pink became white. I palmed my lids and my eyes made red stars. I emptied myself of all sound.
Emma Bolden is the author of Maleficae, a book-length series of poems about the European witch trials (GenPop Books); medi(t)ations (forthcoming from Noctuary Press); four poetry chapbooks; and one nonfiction chapbook. Her work has appeared in such journals as the Spoon River Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Conduit, and Feminist Studies.