Plain China

Blue Glass

by Audrey Spensley · Princeton University
"Floral Bones", Raegan Jaeger · University of Minnesota

Yesterday your mother mailed you

nine of your baby teeth wrapped in plastic,

no return address. I named you.

Not your father. She kept one molar

for her back pocket.

 

 

In the first year of your life

your anklebones were soft

and your gums bled constantly.

 

 

Your mother taught you

how to scrub bruises from skin,

how to sponge the blood caked

in the lining of your palms. Pressed

your swollen face into the water.

Anything can be cleansed

if you try hard enough.

 

 

Once a deer ate from your palms

eyes still wild. You were alone

and it was alone. You held

your breath so it wouldn’t smell

the decay. At home you taped

sycamore leaves to the wall,

watched them wither, veins drying.

 

 

Your mother tried to rip

the bones out of her hometown,

stuff them in her purse,

tuck streetlights behind her ear.

She was raised by gin and rough hands

telling her what to do. Morning—

ten minutes of concealer, powder,

foundation and all is new again.

No more purple lace.

 

 

The ocean swallows everything.

There is no bruise like the stones

collected on the cusp of beach.

You spit salt. You flail in crushes

 

while she smiles at the lifeguard,

pretend he’s looking back,

lines her thin lips strawberry pink.

 

 

Your mother kept a knife

in her bedside drawer any night

she slept alone, waiting

for the front door to unpeel

from its hinges.

 

 

You sprawl textbooks

over the table, vocabulary

like metal gripped in your teeth,

Asphyxia, as in a lack

of oxygen, as in a stack of pillows,

as in it’s been three days

since she’s left her room

and even the wallpaper is afraid to breathe.

 

 

You found blue glass

on the beach, nestled

next to a horseshoe crab corpse.

You splintered open the meatless

skeleton and kept the bones.

When she left, she kept the glass.

About the Author

Audrey Spensley · Princeton University

Audrey Spensley is a freshman at Princeton University pursuing a major in public policy with a minor in creative writing. Her work has been published in Hobart, The Eunoia Review, and Hermeneutic Chaos, among others. "Blue Glass" firsr appeared in Blueshift

About the Artist

Raegan Jaeger · University of Minnesota

"Floral Bones" first appeared in Ivory Tower.