On Wednesday my mother took me shopping
after the doctor.
Just us, honey.
Anything you want.
In the changing room,
the mirror with her body
as I dressed, undressed, dressed,
ritual, becoming routine, becoming.
She smelled of sun lotion,
peanut butter. I wanted
her skin, her freckles. I wanted
her eyes. I wanted
to smile her smile, eager, wanting
to fix it.
I wanted that.
On Thursday, I looked at my body
Sisters gone early to summer camp
I had the bathroom to myself
washed my body
pink cotton nightgown
puddled by my feet
I leaned into the mirror
saw my neck
red as a plum swollen
ringed by purple fingerprints
large thumb marks crawled
like beetles up the side
small bruises stained my clavicle
purple with green edges
paint seeping into paper
stepping back my eyes
looked away from
what they'd seen
saw my chest saw skin white
from my swimsuit top
saw pink nipples
saw ribs stomach summer brown
tan line white
pink puffy a torn peony
the doctor said it would hurt to pee
hurt it hurt
in the mirror
On Saturday, I packed my body into a satchel
and carried it along with my diary, pjs and
toothbrush to my friend Jill's for a sleepover.
Late afternoon, we walked down the road,
stopped to pick blackberries until our palms,
fingers, lips bled red. Wiped juice on our
cutoffs before entering Mr. Minota's Corner
Store. Screen door slammed behind us, bell
jingling. From behind the counter, Mr.
Minota nodded our way. Jill steered me to the
back, behind the shelves of booze, the
magazine stand. An older boy was looking at
a Playboy inside a Car & Driver. He turned
away. Jill opened the tobacco case, pulled out
a pack of White Owl tipped cigarillos. At the
counter, Mr. Minota looked at us, the White
Owls. Jill coolly asked for a pack of matches.
Maybe he thought they were for her dad.
Maybe he didn't care. We walked down to
the lake, slipped into the rush along its shore.
Sat, feet in the water's wash. Jill knocked a
couple of the White Owls from the pack. We
bent our heads to the match's spark. Inhaled
the White Owl's sad foul smoke, coughed.
Coughed what little girl remained.
On Sunday, I came home, the herb garden, my sisters
who slept like moths in my bed.
shadow at my elbow—
yellow breath, fresh-scented grass.
The horizon's curve.
"Afterward" is a companion poem to the poem "Tuesday," published in the Mississippi Review 46 1&2.
Heidi Seaborn is Poetry Editor for The Adroit Journal, a New York University MFA candidate and the author of an award-winning debut book of poetry Give a Girl Chaos forthcoming in early 2019 from Mastodon Books. Since Heidi Seaborn started writing in 2016, she's won or been shortlisted for over a dozen awards including the Rita Dove Poetry Prize and her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Nimrod, Mississippi Review, Penn Review, Yemassee Journal, American Journal of Poetry, in her chapbook Finding My Way Home. She graduated from Stanford University and reads for the Tupelo Press Dorset Prize. www.heidiseabornpoet.com