Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I once dreamed of Bob Dylan

In a treehouse, one walled and built from looking glass, the old man spoke to me; leaves colored like immanent death drifted and swirled, their reflection a knowing torture, and he said blankly, “You must walk the highway to get to the by-way.” I blinked twice, flashing sea stones at his face (like cracked, dried mud in noon sun) as he pointed to the lines on mine that had not been written yet.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Lit Up Magazine 11/08


You must be open to everything, he tells me as I walk out onto the porch to count stars and burn lungs with the sweet south. There is a great silence in noise watching blue screened television through blinds, and absorbing the hum of garage door lights making a mirage on wet pavement. Rain trickles, as if slow moving rivers, into the grate. Water dripping from the wood beneath my feet vibrates like the inner sanctum of a clokkemaker, the gears in my head constructing time stealers. I hear 18 wheels on the wet curves, air in brakes signaling the solemn fact that these small towns go ghost on Sunday’s at six. All that is left are the strangers gliding over tangles of highway, silver-backed foxes low slung in hunt. With nimble fingers, even in the damp coming winter, I tell him sadly, but with conviction, There are no stars tonight, no stars.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by LitteraTour 12/08 (Translated into Portuguese)

Black Seas

Regression happens with age, bodies morph into sharp, geometric renditions of flesh with insipid harsh angles. Her face engulfed by the caverns her sockets make, muddied pools empty and still with no flickering fire cast about the walls. The skin stretched over her face looks waxy and I beckon the notion to call Madame Tussaud, but this woman lacks singular importance in the world, one old leaf ready to be blown about and put back to the earth. No accolades for her bravery. I sit here in the dark watching her breath hover, the vapor shaped in the image of Gabriel, and I let the room escape me. Her collarbone creates a valley that could hold the Black Sea, her mind lost somewhere between youth and release, and I want to touch the sweat collecting there. Her salted life seeping up from her center as if a spring of ground water. My fingers reach out silently as she opens her eyes in one, small moment of lucidity to ask me, “Am I still alive?” Her face alight in that second showing me the heartbreak of lovers, meals cooked, children swaddled, and presents given with knowing. “Yes,” I tell her, “yes.”
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Heroin Love Songs 11/08

Try as he may to keep them

Brambles both red and black begin their reach to birth, entangled with briar and her fresh face that is always accompanied by some sting of pain. The long hibernation of life, a shallow breathing in winter, gives up with arms spread wide, chest open and unprotected to the sun. There is a great deception in the new tenderness of May with her skies the color of summer, and stoic white cloud plateaus I could climb if not so out of reach. The air remains stiff enough to bite noses carnelian. Old father makes his last attempts to keep his daughters three inside his hovel; to keep them from shedding layer upon layer revealing shoulders and knees and lips to the wayward souls of the men of summer, but they disregard his pleas and warning laying but a gentle kiss on his cheek.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Kendra Steiner Editions 5/08

The map to the road of happiness

Streets suddenly are lined with trees burgeoning leaves in yellow-green, while the cherry and crabapple send pink promises, like tiny baby fingers, into the road. Around us there is music lifting from windows rolled all the way down, the heat carries portions of songs from the lips of drivers; fingers tap the roof as heads bob to the beat. Driving out of town, the season’s change gets marked with signs of orange, their directional nature reassuring that order is once again restored with the rise of Mercury. The river low and green banked, pulls alongside the town that has settled into its curves. Willows begin to weep, and fathers stand with toes in the water showing sons how to cast out and reel in. We pull to the side of the road for ice cream, the olds stand scattered in their early afternoon glory, leaning on canes in lines for sweet creams in flavors of their youth. This is one more summer added to the decades; time allowing them green leaves for just a short while longer, and giving them another chance to smile at their lovers while playfully catching drips that slide down cake cones.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Kendra Steiner Editions 5/08

In the moments of waiting

The river is at its banks, willing spring with sheer force and for the first time, I can see the hills lit up in the pallid end of winter’s grip; clouds hang lazy in a pink-tinged yellow sunset lighting up spires of churches and dusty smokestacks, factories in full blaze. Mangled branches pierce the horizon pushing fingertips of new green, a promise of life to bring us a much needed bounty if only we could wait that long.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Kendra Steiner Editions 5/08

What we find when we are not looking

Tired limbs are dragged through the new spring grass forging the crest of the dyke; the creek is already lower than after last year’s thaw. We comment its difference as if it tells some new meaning to life. The air comes up cooler by the rocks, tightens our skins in a pleasant way, giving the impending end to this walk a heaviness, an ill-fitting cap to the day. We share a trust, she and I, as her tiny hand fits into my bigger one, to lead her to places of safety; the ease of her doing this bends me round the heart in this hushed moment. Feet move down the embankment in measured steps laced with hesitation, until level ground is felt. We speak of adventures and the risk of unknown paths taken in haste, but more so, of the risks incurred for not. A verdant trail snakes gently through hordes of dried grasses and skeletons of Queen Anne’s lace with heads tilted and dethroned; carcasses of milkweed with pods half-cracked reveal pristine fluff with seeds, loosely attached. And there is more than wonder written on her face as I send creamy tuffs through the air, floating precariously on wet wings; her stray flaxen curls bounce in the chase, sun-reddened arms reach to catch fairies in mid flight. My gaze strays to the small, bare tree. Perched head high, the red- winged blackbird speaks, cocks his head east and west, leaving one shiny eye in my direction before launching into the dying light. Above, the moon hangs loosely in her three-quarter dressing gown, makes eyes at the sun across the way; the sky more tropical than oceans with hills red fired behind, and we stop to look. Her head rests against my ribs with an arm wrapped round, fingers lightly digging into my hip, and both of us breathing it in. I stretch my free hand out to the side, waiting for yours to slip in it, making a connection between us, somehow putting a circle together and filling it in with more than could be expected while crowning it with a smile above our heads.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Kendra Steiner Editions 5/08

This night changes all others

Up from the ditches, weeds lush and green make a mockery of the stagnant waters they came from. Robins with their red-breasted double buttoned suits, fastidious about their worms after the first spring rain floods them to the surface. Their deep, earthy musk like loam, rich and moist, mingles with the new mist forming in the center of the road, just a fledgling fog. Forsythia in full push of the season, with its woody arms bear sparks of butter yellow sun, warming the damp of evening. In the glow of houses, with soft porch lamps lit, rocks painted as ladybugs huddle at bases of mailboxes, giving rise to good omens and letters of love to bless this house. An old woman shuffles to the screen door to watch me pass when her faithful Lab loosens a hollow bark of warning; wrinkled hand rests on his black head, wet nose nudges up in gratitude. My eyes become set to the treetops, their black lines intricate and fierce like pumping arteries that carry the blood of spring, and I stare off until my vision goes blind in twilight's grip. Again, I look for you in this days ending, wanting to speak to you of how mists rise and nights fall; how birds dance and puff in their mating time; the preciousness of buds on trees still brilliant green in shadow's depth; the smell of dirt and how someday we will nap in it one last time when the leaves of our lives peter out into obscurity. But what is settled for, begrudgingly, are tales told to road signs and curved double yellow lines with their boundaries and halts, until the moment of longing is gone.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Kendra Steiner Editions 5/08

One heart is harbored in the flight

Clouds move over the hills in blackness, a warning of the tremulous voices that will bellow into the hazy sky ahead, rolling like oil smoke towards the house. Children continue to run in the courtyard with their handmade kites, fashioned to branches of core-dead trees, not realizing they are becoming fleshy lightening rods. Thunder comes first in a slow, bitter boil, a sound felt in the bones before it is heard; the electricity creeps through the heat, lifts hairs from skin and quickens the heart. In this cosmic turning, birdsong ceases, no notes of spring laced in the wind blowing hard; kites tense on long yarns and fishing line while tender young curls of hair mix wildly in the air. We escape the first clap and bolt by only mere seconds, darting through raindrops bigger than life itself, and sit laughing on the stoop, each inspects the others dirty feet and grass stained fingers. Rain pours down in sheets as if invisible curtains were sent to cover the sun. I sit on the bed with windows opened and mist touching my face pressed into the screen. The thunder now ominous is followed with flashes bright and defined. The parking lot floods, water rushes into the grate, adds to the symphony of raindrops on steel chairs, wooden planks, concrete ,and tile. It is a rushing that pushes into the heart like the sound of your voice, low in my ear.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Kendra Steiner Editions 5/08

If we were the only ones in existence

Earth worms in a race across blacktop, wet with new rain, the inner workings of their bodies evident as they stretch out fat and juicy just begging for the hook. Dandelions have closed up shop, no canary sunshine heads, no lion’s mane with thick grains of pollen to shine under chins or wipe off children’s noses while smiles invade our faces. The squeak of galoshes on the slick pavement and the simple giggle that rises from shallow puddles, clear and inviting, make me think of how she might look sideways to you, verifying rain boots are for splashing. Molecules of water cling to the strands of my hair, still wild and unkempt from a morning of fitful dreams, after awakening hours before with you on my mind and joy spread the width of my face. I sit inside waiting for the bus watching umbrellas open and close, lithe bodies jockeying for position in line, as they report to each other the haps of the weekend. The aroma of coffee infiltrates the room, and I wait.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Kendra Steiner Editions 5/08

Friday, October 24, 2008


She is 98 going on 50 and I am changing her back into her clothes for discharge home. We chat about remembering not to take too many of her new pills without talking to the doctor, as she rests a hand upon my forearm, her touch light and feathery with fragile, thin skin. I look into her eyes to find the edges reddening, brim with sad tears on the brink of spilling. She tells me she doesn’t understand why sickness has found her family so late in her life. She grips me now with tiny fingers, speaking of her son curled in a bed from stroke, how he had never hurt anyone in his life to deserve such an end, such a fate. There is nothing I can say so I start to cry, place my hand upon her brittle, gray hair sliding it down until is rests on her cheek to catch the tear that got away.
Aleathia Drehmer 2007
Published by Words Dance 10/08 (Issue 12)

Apples and Cinquains

Sitting next to him in the cusp of what would have been sixteen years of life spent in each other’s company, I heave a breath that cuts the room. Our backs hunch over sitting in tiny blue chairs built for small people as we listen to our progenies academic achievements. The teacher looks through the painful silence between us and I find myself counting the puffs of oxygen coming from the tank neatly strapped to her back to distract me from the truth of it all. At the end, we stare at the pile of drawings and stories, the culmination of our combined seeds, trying to decide what fragments of her we cannot bear to part with. As I walk to my car alone, I look sideways and see him there in his seat, sun hitting the windshield and his face is twisted as if crying. Part of me wants to knock on the window and simply say, “I’m sorry.” But I know that would somehow never be enough, so I keep walking with the sound of gravel under my feet.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Words Dance 10/08 (Issue 12)

A Bee in the Belfry

You are a monk on the bench in the garden blessed by a god neither of us believe in. Your belly a great rising and falling of intuition as the faint perfumes from Yucca and Oxlip float into your mouth on the easy breaths that come in half sleep, and I a bee amidst the stems and petals, adventuring out several feet at a time reporting back colors, whorled leaves, and densely tangled ground cover to your deaf ears. A benevolent smile peels your lips, eyes close in the winking summer light dancing minuets across the bridge of your nose until it finds me still and silent in the world’s greatest perfection. I come to rest on the worn wood beside you, leaving no space for air between us. Our warming damp skins mingle, ribs touch in rhythm to the raven’s call; your arm rests over my shoulder like moth wings as the belfry comes alive, scattering vibrations through the blue. My lungs hold their breath, feel yours continue even and sweet, then release in time to meet your bones that cage the dove, burning quiet. You speak at once about bodies buried at our feet. Their gift the flowers, wild and entangled, growing from the bone dust of pious men. I knew then, I loved you.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Flutter 10/08

After the party, standing in the rain

Today the rain has washed away that woman’s face done in chalk on the pavement while I spoke to you that afternoon weeks ago. I can still see her like a ghost, hair pulled back in a loose bun at her neck with tendrils at her ears. I had plans for her, plans for retouching the wisps of hair curled round, kissing her cheek, plumping the bottom lip and shining the eye. But life is messy and it gets cleared when the universe sees fit to do it. And I am surprised by how little it took to clean the palette of its dust, leaving no trace on the surface of its existence. But the sun has burned it in to the palm of my hand, into my retina
and I can still see the curve of her forehead from here.

Aleathia Drehmer 2008

Published by Nibble (Issue 4)

balancing a cup on the edge of a garbage can

agitated fingers long and slender twist the helix of time. these are two roads that never cross, but call his mental state a bad case of identity theft. they incriminate his coat as evidence against him. he refuses to part with it, lest we discover the truth locked in to the fibers of the fur trim he strokes at his neck.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by Nibble 9/08 (Issue 3)

They always get what they want

The thought of mating rituals has not been entertained in years and she fails to notice the dances going on around her, already captured and caged forgetting the thrill of a man’s advances; The smell of cologne, hands at the small of her back or a gentle cupping of the elbow. She has forgotten how close He’ll lean in to whisper nothings in her ear about dinner or music or even the weather, and she won’t hear words, only the treble in his voice as it vibrates across her skin. She remembers now about the loud music and its excuse for him to angle into her to smell the sweetness of her shampoo mixed with the excited musk of her flesh. In turn he knows his breath, warm and fast, will melt her in all the right places regardless of what he says. And he plays cat and mouse, easing back, out and away from her, knowing she is hungry enough to chase.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008
Published by DecomP 11/08

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quarter past eleven on the Jubilee

My Abuela's gray shoes are tight and her ankles bilge over the sides, great fresh sausages encased in knee high hose two shades lighter than her skin. They roll down forming hula-hoops of mesh on her calves. It is quarter past eleven and we are on the tube with lights flashing staccato across weary faces of travelers, foreign moons like mine, but still so strange to me. I touch Abuela's hair as it lifts from her scalp. The strands black and silver spider legs crawling in the air. I see myself in the glass across the aisle and smile at my reflection until the corners of my eyes are squinty. Abuela tucks my hair from my face and pinches my cheek softly. I lean into her with a secret whisper in our own language that I do not want to share with the others. Her apron smells of cleaning products and seems a safe place to harbor them. She straightens my favorite red coat with the white flowers, and pulls the phone from her old leather purse to show me its electric blue screen full of games and music and numbers. It plays our song and we share a small laughter into our hands, brown of earth and heritage, hands that plant the seeds of our mighty existences into the rich topsoil, in a place so far from home. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by The Toronto Quarterly

The cat hides under the chair

Sometimes it is hard to love you when the wind rushes beneath my dress and the skeletons of hills illuminate what we already know. Sometimes it is hard to love you in the silence of this room, its roar the only music, save the savage world beating on the screen of the window. Sometimes it is hard to love you as the tea goes cold and still in the cup, when the heart is lit by a single fading candle. Sometimes it is hard to love you under the weight of the sky falling like anvils to the ground, under a night-cursed loneliness of empty arms and breath. Sometimes, it is hard to love you.
Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by In Between Hangovers 10/08

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


for Chu bone white and smooth nothing less than hand-tooled perfection creating suspended animation time warp an extra sensory perception of youth. and we see results of her copulation with Ponce de Leon's dream the gleaming complexion to light the night in fog after hours spent under knives and screws potions, lotions and chemical reductions for Juliet's poison Aurora's cure twisted in languid states of living and perpetual prepubescence. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by Eviscerator Heaven 6/08

War II

men will do strange things when faced with prosperity at no cost to themselves. they set about in secrecy pushing forward deviations, taking wills of others easily pushed into boxes left with darkness threats indoctrinated with fears in failing economies and good ole boy mentalities into boxes men slipping through shadows eyes darting blindly at voices thick with lust holes, warm and wet filled with greed, with certain entitlements. and the scraping of boots imbedded with foreign sands molten into glass cutting across metal, sparking reverberations, not easily forgotten. Aleathia Drehmer 2007 Published by Covert Poetics 7/08

War I

$21 billion seems a fair price in the cycle of raping that slides from the top down, a tumbling of dominos tipped with a quick stroke from the pen, each knowing how their hands touched the heads of 85,000 dead Iraqis, absolved from punishment as they sit back in the glow of burning fields, palms greased with crude, shaking hands on side deals. Aleathia Drehmer 2007 Published by Covert Poetics 7/08

Set Sail

“The world is such a wonderful place” he said, with voice trailing off into the collage of noises: bare thighs scraping down the slide, children’s laughter, dogs barking, frog song and low flying airplanes overhead. Yoshii sat with her body folded in half, knees pulled into breasts, on the wooden pylons skirting the play set, its borders creating a sea of woodchips and discarded toys. She sank her feet into it with silent delight, her eyes patiently following her son’s interactions with the American children; she somehow hoped for a better integration than her own into this land of excess. Her voice rang out in the high, clipped language full of intonations that kept him isolated like a buoy; the warnings shouted for safety, as he blindly followed the pack of cabin-fevered children all in a swarm of awkward legs and new teeth, while they chased the oldest boy on his bicycle. Yoshii thought for a moment of her own childhood, of the freedoms never tasted the way her son’s tongue has, and it filled her inside to see him grab this life with both hands, to put the world in his mouth and bite without hesitation. She readjusted the pleat of her limbs, her feet still submerged in the wooden ocean and bowed her head in thanks for the gifts of this moment. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by Debris Magazine 7/08

Sunday, May 4, 2008


It is a wall of honeyed trees; the aerial view, density personified, engulfing and pushing the girl simultaneously. Her body is pulled inward by the smell of it, something akin to seaside, and hay in mid-day heat. Its branches a delicate coral, an entanglement of water removed from the primal habitat climbing walls instead of creeping sand, and she wants to swim through it, lie in it like a simpleton as if she belonged there, pretending for moments that she is a daughter of the ocean. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by Haggard & Halloo 4/08

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

North Beach

for jas Your body is bent over the sides of a high jump bed that you and that other guy have scaled leaving me curled at the bottom, half covered half insane with exhaustion. And we don’t listen to each other with music in one ear and out the other through white wires; And the phone is ringing the red phone, the hot phone the eagle phone, ringing. You and that other guy just stare at it, blankly and then smile at me. I answer it expectantly. “It’s the president,” I tell you, “he wants his brain back.” And we all look to the table where it sits as we have used it for an ashtray, butts crushed, but still glowing in the frontal lobe. I lay back down, a dog at your feet ready to sleep. And then the doorbell rings, you and that other guy kick me off the bed and I hit the floor with a thud, mumbling under your breath about it being my turn. I walk passed the television, It is on without sound, streams of violence and war footage casually displayed like cartoons. I answer the doorbell in my underwear. It was north beach. I shout to you “Hey its north beach, and its for you.” You shout back, “Tell her I’m not fucking here.” She tells you, “I fucking heard that asshole.” I watch her big white ass saunters down the sidewalk. I close the door. I climb the bed. I tell you and that other guy “move over bitches.” Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by Kill Poet (Issue 4) 4/08

The Turning of Wheels

Maria’s life felt negligible at best staring out the window of her second floor apartment at all the other replicated buildings just like her own, and she spent hours in lustful curiosity about the goings on inside the other tenants homes; wondered what secrets were held behind stately green doors and twelve paned windows. The neighbors were of the keep to themselves type, and often Maria only saw or heard their children playing in the grassy courtyard, or up and down the wide looping road that encircled the complex; the sound of wheels on pavement (bicycles, skateboards, roller blades) could always be heard and she mourned the day that those frictional tones would not be included in the arsenal of white noise she relied on daily. Today, Maria felt sadder than she had ever before, sitting in her black leather computer chair, as there seemed to be a deeper emptiness in her vigil than days previous, and she wanted winter to shoulder this burden, to take the blame, but she could not bring herself to accuse him. Her life had slowly been drained of unwanted noise and time vacuums—the sound of sports constantly on the television, the opening and closing of the porch door in the middle of the night when he snuck out for cigarettes, the raucous quality of his snoring, and his groans of obesity and aging that made her grit her teeth and beg for acts of attrition. He had taken those things with him when he left their apartment for good, when Maria had messily torn at his heart with her fingers, fracturing the long years of their marriage together; fracturing the miles of sadness she held inside over the decade of their accumulation. She traded his noise laden presence for the solitude of the world just happening moment to moment, with its quiet deaths and births that went unseen by most, except by Maria who recorded them with her eyes and ears from the dim room at the back of the building on the second floor from the creaking black chair, and she waited for a sign or some tiny acknowledgement to validate her own existence. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by Six Sentences 3/08

Friday, February 29, 2008

"Staring down a white-tailed doe"

Small town factories put the hard line on faces. All of them in a vertical destruction of youth, skin hanging there a wrinkle of time. Generations pulling long hours sucking in black death, diamond death, poverty death. It is all tattooed on the inside of lungs, painted over eyes, along the jaw clenched unknowingly. The subconscious is the only faction aware that there were once dreams of something more than making rent and car payments, of cigarettes and six packs consumed. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by The Cerebral Catalyst 3/08

"Lying in the Grass"

it mats down in the shape of a body forming that high wall, a fortress. impressions sink into the very earth; breath a wind clattering together with bladed chimes. heart beatings through moist ground, reverberations from the core and his eyes are nothing but pools of untouched sky. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by Erbacce 2/08


For a brief moment the house was silent save the scratching of the needle on old vinyl, words floating in air from the farthest room “All I really want our love to be….” And I felt his shoulders slump when he heard the words, when the kettle whistled when the drawer slid open And water poured into the empty cup; sugar bowl scraped across the counter the spoon clinked before it hit liquid. I felt the sound of his sigh, deep and long the last of our love escaping in a breath that resumed the house to its usual noises. Aleathia Drehmer 2007 Published by Erbacce (for Gloom Cupboard) 2/08

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


we are a tangible child's pose twisted unto ourselves in the bottom of the shower hot water scalding old hides into scarlet costumes. we are the pain creeping into joints without remorse, the pulling of muscles flexed beyond intention, the subtle tightening a warning to us all. we are soon an empty shell pink and new found on unformed particles of glass potentials deep and tonal if only our fingers could release it to the sea. we are nothing save the loose flesh stretched over sinew and long bones; human lorica, segmented until returned to the earth a burrowed stillness, slivers of magic found in the dead of night. Aleathia Drehmer 2008 Published by Silenced Press 2/08

Atmospheric Pressure

Cold clutches her, breath visible from nostrils and mouth. She pats her chest as if this will equalize the atmosphere moving inside her, the air steeling her, the sound of rebirth in this game of ball played with five brothers and a father, whose face speaks to his offspring of light and knowing wrapped around each of them. Their unseen boundaries of victory evident in the ticking, coming from chests synchronized and loud; something born unto them, an extra machine with a perfectly calculated compass, affixed to the apex pointing them upward and outward. Aleathia Drehmer 2007 Published by The Beatnik 2/08

The River

for Gail I question the worth of my character in this moment, attempting to find some clue, a common ground to the mystery of my charm as my face takes on mixed emotions rapidly, animated in graceful but stilted movements. And he tells me quite frankly, with mouth’s edge curled upward, that all women are crazy. And somehow men find what they need amidst the chaotic flow of ever revolving faces worn without remorse to find the gentleness and grace that touches them floating in the river. Aleathia Drehmer 2007 Published by The Beatnik 2/08

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Dress

The need for attention proves agonizing the crazier Jenna feels. It assails her mind until no corners are untouched by its wickedness. She sees herself strutting through the center of town, through the business square with its one street bustle, in her full-length seventies gowns, being judged and juried by the community. The dresses are hideous, showing the degree of her mental decline, they speak to her, and she hears their language; listens to the stories about the journey the garments have made from person to person until landing on the racks at Salvation Army, waiting for her to rescue them. The automatic door opens slowly with a creaking of age. The smell of time hits her in the nose. She runs her left hand over the garments. Each gown glows with an aura making her fingers get numb and tingly. Jenna closes her eyes to avoid biasing her choices based on favorite colors or textures. A dress must be felt intrinsically to achieve the status of the midday parade through downtown. No ordinary gown can qualify. Her entire body halts as electricity arcs into her fingertips. The feeling is strong and Jenna hesitantly opens her eyes to reveal a wonder. Beneath her hand is the most glorious dress she has ever seen. It is 100% polyester, floor length, black and white calla lilies pieced together in a visual feast. The sleeves are full to the wrist, and the neckline plunging into a shift bodice that pulls the eye to the floor. Jenna quivers in anticipation of trying the dress on. “It has to fit, it has to fit,” she chants to herself on the way to the dressing room. The curtain to the small changing room slides over easily, the sound of it reminds her of getting in the shower, it smells of mothballs and old ladies, but these attributes have become enchanting. They signify impending discoveries. Jenna disrobes down to her bra, panties and black, worn combat boots studying herself in the mirror, though it never does any good. She cannot see what kind of girl she is, and the girl in the mirror never tells her anything useful. With arms up high, the dress comes down over her head, sliding easily and perfectly into place over her breasts. The fabric releases from her hands and swishes to the dirty carpet below, swallowing her boots. Her hands smooth out the wrinkles, running over hips and breasts and thighs. The dress is immaculate and fits her without question like a second skin. The African charm fastened around her neck as a choker gives the look statement, her clean-shaven skull with swaths of paprika hair, adds just the right amount of color. Jenna studies her image and feels complete. She removes the garment, carefully folds it, checks the price tag several times to be assured it is affixed. Items without price tags cannot be sold until re-priced, and they almost always are more expensive once desired. Her clothes are replaced like old friends, and she sweeps back the curtain of the dressing room with flourish holding her head high like a movie star, an heiress, an artist, a musician, a woman bent in more ways than one. Jenna lays the dress upon the counter as if handling a newborn or a fragile artifact. The check out girl roughly unfolds it, shakes it out, inspects it and looks at her sideways, screwing up her face. She’s got to be crazy to wear a dress like this. “That’ll be $1.99 plus tax.” Aleathia Drehmer 2007 Published by The Clockwise Cat 8/07


Mikela watches Jonah blow smoke rings around his pallid face in the half darkness. The wisps trail from his lips along the bridge of his straight, long nose before dissolving in front of his eyes. Light from the television screen reflects in his glasses as he sits motionless. Jonah’s long legs fold up in front of him like stilts as he leans his back into the ratty brown couch. It is stained from late night parties and laziness, the fabric worn in places until the padding is evident. She looks at him as if he were a building whose architecture she might want to scale and measure. The shape of his limbs perfectly angular as they connect to the center of his body, beams jutting from a steel frame, his exterior slick and fragile, as if coated in a fine layer of glass. Images from the television make shapes on his face, the same as on her face as she sits directly behind him silently stroking the fine, dark brown hairs at the base of his neck. He blows a perfect ring of smoke into the silence. Mikela stares through the center at the black and white movie that has been playing for the last hour. She can see Tom Waits’ mouth moving, face contorting, arms flailing about, but she is relegated to imagining the gravel of his voice, as Jonah likes to watch movies without sound. He tells her he would rather study the language of the body in conversation than the language of voice with so many of its words wrapped in double meanings. “The body does not lie the way words can,” he says to her. Mikela tilts her head to the right towards the curtain-less windows; the squares of glass dirty from smoking. She looks at the field to the side of the house; the raspberry brambles build a fortress around the edges in the moonlight. She notices the fish swimming in the tank that is sandwiched between two low-slung sills. The off white paint slowly chipping reminding her of paper birch trees, and it makes her want to get up and start peeling it away. But the filter bubbles into the tiny ecosystem distracting her, and the light catches on the iridescent scales of her tetras. She is captured here for a minute, contemplating her arrival at this very place in time; how after all these years she would find herself alone, but not alone, watching silenced movies in the dark. She can’t touch him without the fear of drowning in his sorrow, without extinguishing her own joyfulness, and she realizes right then that he is something she cannot fix. Smoke dissipates above the crown of his head again hanging there like a soft mist and Mikela suddenly feels like an apparition. He is lost in himself in these moments and she is nothing to him. She could pass through him unnoticed except for the sudden chilling in the air that would make him shiver, but not notice her. And when the feeling of an invisible hand lightly brushing the hairs of his arm alarms him, only then will he remember she was once there. Aleathia Drehmer 2007 Published by Beat the Dust 1/08