I have been the beautiful man whispering his secrets into a ruined wall and I have been the echo his hands filled with mud. We never heard what he said but of course we know. He was in love. And it was difficult to say then that I wasn’t, though I wasn’t, in the mirror still thinking Baby, you look so good. I’m not scared. I recorded my voice for you, so thin, so it spread and hurt me. I just wanted to say I was very sad and very beautiful standing there in the light.


Like many women, I’m terrified of becoming my father. When I was born the hospital ran out of pink caps and gave me to him a boy. And can you believe when they corrected themselves, he was just as happy and ran back to the pay phone, crying and counting quarters? It’s difficult to know what makes a man, or to care. Every memory forgets something. At the bottom of the you inside me is another woman, kneeling, wasting herself.


Before I understood déjà vu, I thought God was sending me prophetic dreams, telling me what I must do. I don’t really mind being somebody’s object. I should’ve said so before. I’ve seen dogs with their leashes, leaping around, sentient but not free, free but not free, and I’ve knelt beside them and offered my hand to their mouths, open at the palm and free to lick. Come here, I told you, unbuttoning my dress.


Underneath my tongue another mouth speaks for me.


I’ve cried more than once listening to Whitney Houston’s stretched syllables, the non-words swinging open a non-me, like beneath my face is a cabinet of faces guarding your honey, your dolls, your sun-starved flowers, just waiting to be left unhinged by you, who couldn’t even look at me, my melodrama and your absence a magenta ladder folding in your mouth when you saw I was wearing a second dress underneath.

GABRIELLE RALAMBO-RAJERISON is a writer currently residing in Pittsburgh, where she serves as Nonfiction Co-Editor of IDK Magazine.