allow me to be realistic: there were many men they all gripped my hair the same
there was never a moment where i hated it—the fist balled at the back of my
brain, the yank to expose the neck—it happened first on a pier straddling O
my mouth an O my tits out in the sea breeze
how good to feel put against the ground like that
in the bathroom at home my nipples bleeding from his teeth, mary
it all ends in the bathroom maybe i end in the bath
room high and believing i am dying and choosing to lie last in the bath
tub oh my one O my one you run circles around my teenage body you
do nothing that actually pleases me except to want me oh my one safe place
mary this is the question that lingers: how do you hide a woman’s body underneath another? how
carefully must one slip and cut back the skin? O shimmies the girlfriend skin over mine so we go un
noticed she is thinner than me imagine spanx but whiter, crisper
i am in her body so deeply her soul is an ocean trench i toss my soda can into
your boyfriend my boyfriend with my new suit on will anyone be able to tell slipping his hand out of
mine in the front seat O asks me to unslip the one he loves the afternoon has passed into the
evening the zipper like ice the zipper my only tell




we take a long drive. i want to show you the lights, she says. it’s christmas,
how could i have forgotten? she rolls all the windows down. i’m in the back
seat watching her hair blow back. each house in our neighborhood is lined
with red, green, silver, and blue stars—buckets of them not yet used burn bright
at the doorsteps. don’t you love it? at first i kept all of them up there, she twirls
a hand at the ceiling of the world, but look: we don’t have to be so lonely. the car
seat is plush, like clouds stuck to the back of my thighs. have i always felt so little?
the most intimate relationship you will ever have is with your body. i don’t know who
says this to me—it flutters in on the back of the wind. she parks the car. a hand
is pressed to my forehead. oh, you’re burning up, she says. i’m laid in a soft bed,
the covers lifted and tucked under my chin: my body is no longer mine to worry
about and that is the only relief, however temporary. in the middle of the night i hear
music. she sits at her vanity: the tubes of mauve lipstick, the lemon perfume, the tubs
of sweet smelling lotion all laid out, chocolates in their chocolate boxes, melting to the
touch. rays of light peel around her body somehow—but how? she is almost untouchable.
my circular narrative is an act of worship: it is as if i would be blinded should i look right at
her. yet her voice runs through the house like a cool stream: who told you that you were
naked? and she shaved the wool off of a sheep and she gathered the greenest leaves
and she placed it on the first woman’s body. i am just a bystander. not the first woman,
not the last. but still: i place my hand over her face, then look.

Melinda Freudenberger is an MFA candidate at The New School in New York City. Her work can be found in Bad Pony magazine and is upcoming in BARNHOUSE Journal. She can be found on Instagram @poetpopstar.