Listen. I’ll be better. I stuffed it into every pocket of your clothing I could find. When the garment was pocketless (that is to say, it was without) I sewed a small square of fabric to its inside—a variegated and decorated ulcer—and stuffed it there. When the doorbell rang and you rose so slow I barely noticed—almost like a drifting, you, an unanchored dinghy—and walked away from the table, silent in your stockinged feet, I sprinkled it into the cool blackened belly of your coffee cup. Imagine my heartbreak when you came back with four boxes of Thin Mints and poured the rest of the cup down the drain. Your arm raised high, as if you imagined for a moment, on this vernal Sunday, you were Moses incarnate, and the muddy water that fell from your vessel could be changed over our sink into blood.


I counted out loud to the skylight until I couldn’t stand any longer. I sat on the counter and held my heels over the gas burner until I remembered what my mother used to say about loons on the lake five and a half hours north of our fifty-year-old house. I paid six dollars to a woman who wouldn’t look at me—she lifted the wooden arm and I curled around myself in the gradations of a snail shell, my shame luminescent. I grew into the dim like a hand-me-down dress that clings only to the very unhappy who try to wipe it from their mouths with the backs of dollar bills and black matte martini napkins. I sought out congested streets and pulled the key from the ignition when an ambulance drove behind me. What about my battered hall? My empty room? I bled for days—just a pink smattering coming off on the walls like drowned geranium petals; just enough to run my tongue along the edge of delirium and wonder what you tasted on the front porch of a country you knew too late you couldn’t conquer.

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KIMBERLY KOTEL was born in Chicago, Illinois. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Presently, she is an MA and MFA candidate at Chapman University in Orange, California.