You wonder if your hair has grown as long as the color-changing mermaid
Barbie you got for your eighth birthday, crimped and frizzy
until you dove her underwater to reveal glowing neon
pink. You are weightless beneath amber
waves, tinted from a mango
bath bomb that will leave subtle shimmers
in its wake on your skin. You long for a tub
big enough to stretch your now adult body,
but resign yourself to sink
down, legs propped next to the faucet,
toes sticking to the linoleum wall of the shower
as each vertebrae flattens under the weight of liquid,
finding a solid hollow on which to rest.
You are a sunken ship as you shift on one side
watching your hair dance spirals,
the only part of yourself you can watch float.
You long to lie on your stomach,
stretch out like a star where your face
can lay gently on the glass
pillow of tepid water, an inverted Sleeping Beauty.
Your mother used to scold you for such roaming
turning over the water until suds spilled onto dry ground.
Shriveled hair scrunched in her hands as they grazed
your scalp, clothing invisible germs in white foam
before sending them down the drain with each Dunk!
You let your hair trail behind as you descend beneath the surface
straddling the line between containment
and safety. You realize the older you get, the more room you take
up, while all the walls remain the same.
The Queen of Wearing White When It's Raining
I think the purest form of freedom is running
barefoot through the mud in nothing
but a white t-shirt.
I’ve never been married but I did wear white
for my first kiss.
I was the only thing visible in the encircling night.
I pretended to be light
in white gauze for a college dance
The first time a guy asked me to dance
I wore an oversized white
shirt that kept falling
off my shoulder.
My prom dress was sleeveless
a secondhand, off-white
ball gown, fit for a queen.
I have a white coat
I’ve carried for years,
a small chocolate stain hiding
inside the lapel.
People ask me how I keep it so clean,
but I say it’s really not
I’ve never worn a white hospital
gown, but my friend L has twice;
first when her appendix ran
out its earthly clock, and second
when they EEGed her brain.
They covered her head in white
bandages, a perfect crown.
M left the world
she could no longer remember
her heart flying
her home in faith.
I wear white
every time it rains
no longer a coincidence
but my soul
saying to the sky
See me, soak me through--
I dare you.
Thirty Seconds and It's Done
The glow from the microwave signals
their juice in a plastic pool
A creak in the door
some shuffled feet
a sigh between sobs
he broke up with me
warning signs before your frenzied embrace.
We are warm,
my life force melting into yours
maybe some salt will rub off
You fold to the floor and I follow
suit while a brazen husky believes
his tongue will fix what’s broken if he licks up
all the memories raining
from your face.
We sit with our elbows
touching and pray the sun will rise
as the microwave sings
that it’s done;
we won’t let it grow cold.
About the Author: Jessica Simmons is an undergraduate dance major at Stephen F. Austin State University. She is from Denison, TX and is currently minoring in creative writing. Her work has previously been published in HUMID, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, and soon-to-be Polaris.