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Gloria de Herrera, Saint-Martin d’Ardèche, France 

by Ruth Towne


I come by my disorder honestly. Nothing appears to be wrong. 

My father loved me. So he keeps my teeth in a jar on his windowsill,  

those white scales glare in the pale daylight.  

They are what I was meant to lose.  


And nothing appears to be wrong, but there’s two of me, a stupid duality.  


One of me wanders free on seashores and beaches.  

If ever she reaches water, her life will begin,  

that hatchling sea turtle of a girl.  

Until then, she patiently waits for her egg tooth to sprout.  

She only wants to get out of her leather shell. I hope she lives.  


The other of me? She’s kept secret on a Mediterranean isle,  

in her stone Roman prison cell. She wears a jade green mask.  

She basks in shadow. She asks for blue sky, a spyglass,  

and to view nine dead butterflies arranged in a tray. 

 

This is what it means to make peace with oneself, to live  

with the person who wants to destroy you.  


Nothing appears to be wrong. But I multiply. She and she and I  

might have one body, might be one body, who is to say? 


 My mother offers me my own teeth as though they are hers to return.  Then a sparrow casts itself into a glass pane. I throw the eggshell delicate   girl into a full-length mirror’s enameled plane.  

The mirror works both ways, the face of the other woman in jade  

is splayed across the cursed surface.  


 We three bleed together in looking glass debris, 

 in those pieces sharp as teeth.  

Devouring woman, devouring woman– 

I know soon she will consume me.  

We were predisposed. So it’s no one’s fault exactly.  

I am her sister intrauterine, she is an animal cannibal,  

she is a reef shark with embryonic teeth.  

 This disease belongs to she and she and me. 


Maybe once I knew, but now I’ve lost track of who’s who,  

of the teeth I keep, of the teeth I lose.

 

Ruth Towne is an emerging poet. Other poems from her project Resurrection of the Mannequins have been published by the Decadent Review, New Feathers Anthology, Coffin Bell Journal, New Note Poetry, In Parentheses, and the Stonecoast Review’s Staff Spotlight.

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