Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Heidi Seaborn


On Wednesday my mother took me shopping

after the doctor.
Just us, honey.
Anything you want.
                In the changing room,
Mom blocked
the mirror with her body
as I dressed, undressed, dressed,
undressed, dressed—becoming
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
morning light
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
looked again

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

 this girl
in the mirror
this stranger.

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.
The chill
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.