[Non-Fiction] Macroglossum Stellatarum
Woke with skin as heavy and quiet as snow. The trees are dark and wet, washed over with bright scent. Appalachian air clear and cold, breathcloud puffs like jumping salmon, disappearing then reappearing.
Bend with me, ladies, into pose and poise, dipping legs into our days, made long by underwire or traffic.
Our bodies a suitcase we move from room to room.
Hear our bones pressing, knocking, cracking within it. We’ve packed them, gently, while asleep, the tissue paper thin as the skin over a wrist, ice mute and slightly blue. They tend to move when we are still, a Pan’s shadow underneath limbs and jaws and lips.
Thus, the fate of Gemini women.
We chase our twins through our nights, forgetting we have kept our spines, our dimpled knees, and ground molars close, guarded by arrows and tongues.
How they’ve become tender in the dark.
And when we meet others in the sunlit world our eyes will twitch as filaments. Our sisters Luna, Prometheus, and Atlas are said to have life without curled or forked tongues, those blessed, carrying bright moons below hearts and ribcages and lungs. True, we are often mistaken for prettier forms. We are such a disappointment when they note our dull colors, our fuzz. Our emptied or empty wombs. They do not plant those bright bushes of provision, but hang lanterns of light to draw us in and snuff us out. Air bleeds spider silk and rare, an app on a watch, telling us to breathe in and out.
Remind us, then, of human ways and human needs.
Touch a mirror self and ask of it questions, a spell to bind the selves together, so there would be no need for reflection. There would be no need to look when it’s late, and the light is lost in deep pools below lashes, a personal memento mori postcard, addressed to us in speckled glass.
Apologies whispered, hushed together like a prayer. Tiny beats of wing or heart or word.
Salt collects as crescent moons under nails. Scales at the tips of our fingers.
We hide changeling days in the orbit of office chairs, calendars which rip away the days, and fresh light bulbs, peppering our rooms like fluorescent stars.
Seal skin, a woman’s touch, defined and groomed into skeletal order.
Suspended in flight. A slip of teeth manufactured into a grin.
For what are women but flesh and blood and enamel?
Be careful of us.
Jennie Ziegler currently lives and teaches in the Southeast and serves as an Associate Editor for Dying Dahlia Review. Her work has been previously published in Essay Daily, Appalachian Heritage, Luna Luna Magazine, Folklore Thursday, and Atlas and Alice, among others. Find her at jennieziegler.com or @InTheFourteenth.