thicker than/Powder Brush, 2003 (Submission to Small Craft)

thicker than

The sun

sheathed sometimes in

the clouds becomes

the clouds: my face: cloak-

shouldered statuette,

furrowed eyebrows.

My bones wrapped


in disease become

hard birds, threatening

to slough myself

away from me.

Does the stardust mingle with

the grime? Ochre of my spine

confines each to its quarter

so as not to make it harder

to swing


the nows. A sheet of glass diverges me

from me, does not divulge

which one

to be.

Powder Brush, 2003

after “Gorjus,” a photograph by Sally Mann

I in your hands, a stitch

come loose, a frill of sun

striped across a shaded yard.

You knew the names of vintage cars,

how to make a mountain and a valley

from a cheek, to close my eyes,

to open them, to smear along the edge.

Mirrors winked from underneath

our skirt-hems, giving back to us

not their impressions of our thighs,

but the sun and its obsession

with time. My pores evaporated

as I looked off to the side.

A quiet envy crouched

at the edge of my vision, its ears down,

its snout in the dark.

Your hair was shined as celery-string.

Your feet did not burn against

hot gravel. Today,

I stopped thinking of your smirk

while putting on foundation or

pronouncing vowels.

Rust has rattled green

the joints that hitched brush

to compact blush. I look into your face

across the body of a country.

Our dresses, like two pebbles,

do not match.

It was profound, this splitting

of the vanity.

Like what you read? Give Colette Gerstmann a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.