Mudlark Poster No. 21 (2000)
Kate Lutzner received the Robert Frost Poetry Prize while a senior at Kenyon College. Her poetry has appeared in THE ANTIOCH REVIEW and THE SQUAW REVIEW. She received her J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been working at the Discovery Channel for the past five years. She lives in Washington, D.C.
the dim hour in me
i set mine on the kitchen table.
i fight my way
with trouble hearing
i wonder, maybe sex
and isn't time everything,
the walls in me are coming down
maybe i can put a paint thinner
caused by depression, it grew and grew until it had taken over her whole right side. i used to rub her open places, my color wheel formed in those hour-long intervals when i would intermittently clean and read, the lull of speech making its play for me as i preferred to have it out with words than skin. she had a husband who slept with her but didn't think much about it. when i'd gotten her cleaned up for him so he could find the right cavity, that's when i'd leave the room. a few times i wanted to stay and watch, see how it was he got himself situated. not out of curiosity regarding the particulars so much as just how he fit himself in. once, i confess, i watched through a hole in the door. my sister, who didn't know how to read or clean, stayed in her room, mostly. lots of times when i'd return from my chores she'd be in bed sleeping. i used to knock on her door hoping to talk a little as i was filled with so many images i longed to replenish the glossary of my head. but my sister would not give in to discourse. she liked to remain "free of the troubled form our mother makes," her horizontal memoir taking place even as she endured in the upstairs room. so i'd choose some position of my own to fall asleep in, usually a shape i'd learned in school. the night i mastered the triangle, my mother's husband came to see. little did he know i was familiar with his routine. i put my legs as tight together as i could but there was no warding off his many arms. women, i suppose, are preordained to suffer the sins of the mother. and so her husband had his way with me, small child on his lap or knees so many nights i lost track of where the sun resided in the sky, the constellation of my room and house a dizzying spectacle no astronomer would see.
"make your family out of dolls," says the doctor
she spends a few days penciling everything in,
the girl's brother has one ear.
the girl finds she has run out of ink. "very interesting,"
the girl sets about deciding what to do