j e n n i f e r    s t o c k d a l e

 

“IF YOU LIKE IT, THEN YOU BETTER YOU PUT A   RING ON IT,”

“I COULD CRAWL IN,”




































“IF YOU LIKE IT, THEN YOU BETTER YOU PUT A RING ON IT,”

 

I ribbed God. I hadn’t understood that reincarnation would be part of the deal when I was a schoolgirl. Maybe this was only the case with horrific deaths like mine, which had involved a lot of gurgling & blinking. My organs sputtered & it wasn’t until the humming stopped that I realized what a fine machine I’d been—oh this newfound confidence! & I’d spent my teenaged years taping down my boobs. “I want to go back, back—& do it all over,” I lamented in my regurgitated radio tune voice. I should’ve known from Eddie Money infiltrating Heaven’s airwaves that God was less into precision than accuracy (really God’s real name is Eddie Money, but no one would believe this.) Now I am the sexiest six-year-old I know. Of all the single ladies. All the single ladies. My baton thrust up up up to the sky. Take that, Mr. Money/Maker. The other girls resent my (invisible) hip gyrating ability. “You just have to believe!” I lie to them, relishing their pathetic pouting mouths & fat mothers waving from tree lawns. The spider-hearse is closing in on us every time we circle this block. “Those volunteer firemen are just for show,” I confide to my new best friend, Brandee. But she can’t hear me over the sirens, the box booming behind my head.

 

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“I COULD CRAWL IN,”

 

I thought, eying the asbestos in the rafters & sweating profusely in my bunny suit. I had been wearing this costume for days. No increase in fertility as promised. My skin had become oily with the humidity, the dank breath of children. This mail-order costume slouched & slacked like the thigh fat of an otherwise skinny teenage girl. Chafing kiddies banded, sticky handed & kitten tongued, to form my whiny exoskeleton. This is what I get for changing in a port-o-pot at the fairgrounds—these were the children of carnival folk. Every forty-eight hours, I rode the tilt-a-whirl to pacify them, the subcutaneous crackle under my faux fur. I puked frequently & suspected jaundice festering on my singular self. People had begun treating me with pet-gloves because of the ears & tail & nose twitching—my futile bewitching attempts. “Vacate that appendage!” I instructed the carnies gnawing on my right tibia with their baby teeth. I gathered these restless creatures against my torso. “Children, your gums are leaking. Soon you must use your incisors & fingernails for the slaughter. I am lonely & gamey & there is luck in my limbs. Make me a knickknack. Make me a stew.”

 

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JENNIFER STOCKDALE's poems have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. A small chapbook is forthcoming from What to Us (Press). She attends the MFA program at Notre Dame and teaches at Indiana University South Bend.


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