“Twenty years ago” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday November 12, 2019
5 minutes
The Unspeakable Things Between Our Bellies
Lidia Yuknavitch

Twenty years ago I was thirteen

wearing overalls to hide the breasts I never asked for
plaid shirts from Gap Kids
hair down my back
I’d read the whole young adult section at the
Beaches Public Library
Knew that words were my salvation
scribblers overflowing crushes and mood swings
back and forth and scrambled and fried
poems and letters and finding who I was
in the ringed pages through the blue ballpoint
I was hiding more than my body
balled up underwear in the corners under the bed
balled up wrappers in the bedside table drawers
Who teaches the art of hiding to the young one
with traces of purple mascara
Ill matched concealer belonging to some old lady
covering barely there but so so there pimples
Smelling of Clearasil and soy chocolate pudding

I hid to chrysalis myself
shroud myself in all the flimsy layers
in these tender years of temptation and agony
awkwardness and emotion and longing

I hid to be sought by someone who might save me

the only option I’d been given at the time to consider was
a man
the one in the jagged little fantasy ripped from the Rolling Stone
glued to the collage on the wall of my basement bedroom

“Don’t stare at The Nude.” by Sasha her kitchen table

Wednesday January 29, 2014
5 minutes
God Loves Hair
Vivek Shraya

“What are you doing?” I ask, poking my head into her room. She’s just turned thirteen and would much rather me leave her alone. I can tell this from the way she’ll barely look me in the eye, from the way she paints black nail-polish across the batik of her name on her door, from the way she prefers earbuds tucked in than my voice telling her stories. “I’m writing a letter.” She barely looks up. I leave it at that.

We wash dishes, side-by-side. She washes and I dry. Sometimes our forearms brush up against eachother and she apologizes. “For what?” I ask. She’s turned on the radio and it’s set to the Jazz station. She doesn’t change it. I think about how her father loves Jazz and wonder if he plays it for her when she goes to see him in the Yukon every July. “Mom,” she says, draining the sink and dumping the leftover bits of broccoli and rice in the compost, just like I’ve taught her to do. “I’m writing to a guy in Texas…” I take a deep breath. “Oh?” I say, trying to be the open-hearted woman that she usually forgets I am these days. “He’s in prison… He’s…” “What?” “He’s lonely…” She looks at me and I see my own eyes, ripe and full and I sit down at the round table and she sits down too.