Blueberries for Sal – Robert McCloskey – 1948
In preschool we had a raised table full of old paper egg cartons. Plastic eggs that opened and closed, revealing baby dinosaurs in primary colors. I carried multiples in my shirt, pulled up with my little girl belly button showing. That was the year I pinned my best friend to the ground, a boy smaller than me with dark hair, shoving a conch shell to his ear as he cried. I wanted him to hear the ocean.
The Sarah Book – Scott McClanahan – 2017
I am only reading writers that seem like me. The criteria is Appalachian and angry. I cling desperate to the bits of my identity shining through each sentence as the drugs crack the cycles in my brain.
The Body Book – Author Unknown – Publication Year Unknown
My mother once bought a body book, slick, full color pages. I snuck into their closet and pulled the door shut to read it. For days I poured over the pages of a uterus and cervix cleaved in half. Women’s bodies were easy to understand. They grew new beings below their bladders. This not to say boys were beyond my desire. When my parents walked in I turned the pages fast, pretending I could not get enough of the structure of eyes. Obsession became regular.
The Night I Heard Everything – Mary Carroll-Hackett – 2015
I believed in magic. In my sophomore year I saw a meteor once in the middle of the afternoon. I know it was real because everyone around me stopped for just a second and looked into one another’s faces. And then the moment was over and it was not special. How do I get you to believe me?
How do you define a cult? Does it have to be named? How do you prove it?
A professor once told me she knew I could see things in the spirit world. She said she shared the way the land spoke to me. Her revelation of the color of my aura must be earned. If I did what she wanted, she would tell me who I was. When I decided not to be who she assigned, she instructed the rest of her students to stop speaking to me.
I was once told that my soul lives above my body.
Types of hallucinations associated with bipolar disorder:
Visual – Auditory – Tactile – Olfactory – Kinesthetic. Have you lost your trust in me?
I got my first dog. I took her to meetings during office hours. She was always with me. She was not with me the night I was raped by my childhood friends. Now there is a shadow living inside of me. I cannot separate my body from my soul.
Gregor the Overlander – Suzanne Collins – 2003
I tried to wear shorts that were too short for Bible camp. They told me I was rebellious, that I had a problem with authority. Knee length denim didn’t stop me from wanting to sit next to the blond girl that played soccer, or from staring at her hair while singing hymns to God. I told myself I wasn’t gay, she just looked like the boy I had a crush on last year.
I wore the thin white cotton bras that looked like tank tops trimmed small. The girl in the bunk next to me straightened her hair without her shirt on. Her bra was dark beige, clasped in the back, fabric dipped so severely against her boobs I wanted my body to overflow like that. The next day I looked at the blond girl’s boobs and said to myself, I’m not gay.
WWJD – Savannah Sipple – 2019
My grandmother did not come to my wedding, but I wrote her a letter a few months later, included a picture of me and my wife; she never called. When she died, I took off my wedding ring. To reveal I was married to the rest of the family would jeopardize my father’s inheritance. She left me an aquamarine ring for our shared birth month. I was the only one that received anything.
The day of the funeral my grandmother’s sister fed us barbecue and Cheetos in her carpeted kitchen. I wanted to stay. She cried when we left to go back home. I cannot visit her because of who I love. I cried because I knew it was the last time I would see her.
Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens – 2018
My mother tells me on the drive to the hospital I ripped the seeds out of the cucumbers from her mother’s garden. Later I sat in a cold meeting room without shoes and a doctor assigned me an illness. They told me my tiny blue tablets of lexapro had accelerated the rage, made my limbs buzz and move without permission, but it didn’t change when I stopped taking them. A man that looked like a penis made into a person forced us to play teamwork games. He said it would teach us how to manage our schizophrenia, sleepless manic nights, abuse, and addictions. I told him he was fucking stupid. On the wall were surveys to fill out about staff members. This was our only power.
Julie Greenough is a poet from the Appalachian region of Southwest Virginia. She has been published in Heartwood, The Broke Bohemian, and Anti-Heroine Chic. Her work deals with family, place, and bisexuality. She currently resides in Roanoke Virginia with her wife and their family of animals.