Plain China

Metastasis

by Claire Fallon · University of Minnesota
"Blue", Linnea Schurig · Grinnell College

 

Dana Scully had copper hair and wasn’t afraid

of God or strangeness, but Gillian Anderson’s hair

is blonde so maybe I’m not really sure who

it is that I love. I can make a list that always begins

 

with Mom and always ends in different places—

sometimes in Grand Rapids where my friend writes

stories that never have characters named after me,

and sometimes in my own mouth when it tastes like her

 

favorite peppermint tea. She called me last week

after reading an article and reminded me to check

my breasts for bumps. So, I climbed into my bathtub

and pressed my fingers in tight circles around my nipples

 

until they caught on a pebble, buried in the left

side. A week later a crescent of skin is carved out

and I’m almost disappointed when it’s nothing

because ever since that conversation I burst open

 

in dreams to expose rows upon rows of pearly tumors

hooked onto my organs like barnacles on a whale’s back.

Knowing that it exists does not cause disease,

but after hearing her voice strung tight with concern

 

I want to invite my fingers down my throat

and peel skin back with my teeth like tangerines so I can

empty myself of everything that burns.

Fox Mulder pretends that strangeness isn’t frightening

 

and then Scully got cancer, but my friend

hasn’t watched the show in at least a year

and she turns her head to the side in confusion

when I say we look like them as we search the sky for permission.

About the Author

Claire Fallon · University of Minnesota

Claire Fallon is a junior majoring in English at the University of Minnesota. Literature and writing are her greatest passions and she loves poetry because of the space it offers to the marginalized for understanding their lives and worlds through complex and surprising expression.

About the Artist

Linnea Schurig · Grinnell College

Originally from San Rafael, California, Linnea Schurig somehow ended up in the middle of a cornfield. She is currently a senior at Grinnell College, co-captain of the ultimate frisbee team Grinneleanor Roosevelts, and frequently paints to procrastinate her responsibilities. “Blue”  was originally published in the Grinnell Review.