1 poem | Zelma Cable

First Encounter with a Skeleton

The first time I saw her, she was raining,
anointing her head with coarse salt and water,
Heavy as my mama’s oversized overcoat slung over
her carcass, protecting it from a thunderstorm.
Her eyes sparked lightning-
a sudden shot that whipped
The girls’ bathroom with a fistful of briars-
leaving counterfeit grins and expendable expressions behind.
The first time I saw her, she was humming along
to Chopin’s Waltz in A Minor
Dancing with the idea that the delicate curve
of her collarbone was too clunky
Her skeleton too fragile to
brace the mass of flesh attached
To the sheer hands and ideals
holding her together.

The first time I saw her, I wondered how it felt
to have the dingy school floor and vile commode
As your best friends-
I decided that I did not want to know.
I wondered if she saw what I did:
a sunset of a girl, waiting for the stars to welcome her,
For the moon to embrace her as part of himself-
I decided that I did not want to know.
The first time I saw her, I asked for her name.
she said she had many,
That none of them mattered
that all of them mattered.
Liar, slut, obese, disgusting: names that
did not, could not, why not,
Maybe/possibly/actually did
apply to her
The first time I saw her, she held her stomach
as though it was a sparrow which had
Happened upon her way- sickly, pathetic, rabid
not worth saving, but saved all the same.
A ring of vomit brown as her irises and
red as her sclera encircled her head as a halo
The first time I saw her, I backed away;
the second time I saw her, I regretted it.


Zelma Cable recently graduated high school in northwest Georgia and has a passion for creative writing. She has won a number of awards in creative writing including First Place in the 2014 GA Commission on the Holocaust Creative Arts Student Contest, Honorary Mention in the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and First Place in the 2016 Carson McCullers Literary Awards. She looks forward to furthering her education in the literary arts while at the University of Montevallo, where she will begin in the fall of 2016.

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