Mara Magarahan is a poet from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the poetry collection I’ll Be Okay, which was published in September of 2018. Recently, her work has been published in Bridge Ink’s literary magazine’s 3.5 issue, and Blue Marble Review's 16th issue.
The two of us were up first, our trembling duet on display while the rest of the class sat against the mirror, ballet-slippered feet all criss-cross applesauce, holding their notebooks and sparkly pens they used to write french ballet terms [Fondu: to melt Tomber: to fall Echappee': to escape]
This time everyone was told to scribble our missteps, then read them aloud in front of the class one after another like a roll call of flaws, as if their words would not be snuck home and written across my bathroom mirror in the hot steam, sloppy drips of water sighing, not good enough. Reflections became echoes of the way my body didn't move right.
And my brother took me to an art museum and gushed over the way the painters’ brushes seemed to be an extension of the hand, a direct movement from the heart, but when he pointed to a sculpture called Little Dancer the only thing I had to say was how she should fix her legs to improve her fourth position.
Afternoon shift at the ice cream shop, and I see a little girl watching, all pigtails and sticky, strawberry-flavored fingers sneaking her face up over the counter, only to meet my eyes and smile and understanding, which I give her, and she smiles back, overwhelming me with jealousy of her youthful, invulnerable mannerisms. Reminding me then of peering around my cousin’s doorframe while she wanded her straight hair curly Into perfect rings and I’m red-faced, caught, and running back to mom and all things safe and young.
Gossamer-Thin Girls after The Care and Keeping of You
Allison taught me about boyfriends by running into her bedroom walls with textbooks, purposefully dropping papers and pretending high schoolers were helping her pick them up in the hallways. And when it was my turn I’d add my own twist, tucking stray pieces of hair behind my ears, acting thankful and delicate, a pretty, hand-painted porcelain doll, powdered blush and batted eyelashes, I giggled, she applauded... And we fell, back first, on her bed with a sigh like the brown, elderly rose still kept in a vase on her nightstand, drooping and helpless and hoping to be wanted.
Ode To The Boy In Eighth Grade
Who yelled DO YOU CUT YOURSELF across the classroom, drawing every eye to feast on my thighs, my skirt, slipped a little too high, I hope you know your words were sharper than any blade that ever touched my skin.
My body, a storm, a pile of dust, hurricaned out of that room leaving each and every middle school mouth a tunnel, wide open. They’d never seen someone so broken before.
But you, you were still smiling, a train track of teeth reminding me why I used to hide my marks in the first place. I locked myself in my usual stall, felt my neck tilt back so my eyes could see the ceiling and imagined everything floating above it, the sinks, the walls, me… I carved my name into the metal hinges of the door but
Now when I think back, I wish I would have etched survivor. I wish I would have unlocked the door, taken one glance in the mirror, and hurricaned right back into that classroom, thighs on display, and showed you that I still look good in red, even when I’m dressed in my leftover-dinner-in-the-fridge scars worn as a way to say I’m still here,
The same way I still looked pretty wearing my Mars cheeks to ballet class, a sweaty masquerade of fiery lace draped underneath my eyes, My reds are not any less frondeur than the crack and pop of a cinnamon Coke can on the Fourth of July, the day I get to sit back, empathize with the bangs and bruises in the sky, and finally sigh back to the boy in eighth grade, No, darling, I don’t. Not anymore.