Gingerbread House Lit Mag


On the day the girl’s heart broke
she lay still on her bed. She arranged
her hair behind her like a fan
on the pillow, the way she’d done
since childhood, when she’d dreamed
of being The Little Mermaid.
Now on her bed in her gauzy dress
she pretended again that she floated
underwater. She held her small breath, tried
not to breathe, but the air came
the same as it always did.

So she switched the scene:
She was a red fox in the forest,
head held up, eyes open and unblinking,
watching a sparrow flit on a branch.
This worked.                         Eventually
she turned to glass and fur and her mouth
grew stuffed fat with feathers, a body quiet
and small.

When her mother returned
she found her daughter on the bed,
as white and flat as a cloud
waiting to be swept through someone’s
open fingers.

She was surprised by the look of the window,
how it could open so wide:
Its wedges of glass
like the webs of spiders
clinging to old wicker chairs.

Once the girl ate so much sugar
that her teeth turned blue at the edges
and her hair spun to cotton. She remembers feeling
afraid, cold–like a ghost was in her bones.

Her teeth turned blue at the edges.
It was like when her nails turned red as lung cancer.
She was afraid, cold–like a ghost was in her bones,
like sores.

It was like when her nails turned red as lung cancer,
teeth like spines splitting her back,
like sores
falling to the floor.

Teeth like spines splitting her back,
biting deep through flesh,
falling to the floor:
a silhouette swirling.

She bit deep through flesh.
Once the girl ate so much sugar
that her silhouette swirled
and her hair spun to cotton. She remembered feeling.

There are thorns on the flowers,
said the girl.
She licked blood the color of the sun
from her thumb and lay down
in the full green leaves.

When she closed her eyes
she became overgrown with vines,
her skin turned to paper. Then
her hair was a wall of roses
struck by the moon,
her heart a mystery controlled by wings.

If whimsy meant healing
she would turn to a phoenix.

Sometimes at night the girl feels not teeth in her mouth but diamonds, rough coals as black as the sky. When she looks into the mirror she sees not eyes but stars, like a cartoon drawing of a woman in Japan. When she breathes pink thread spools forth from her throat and hangs still in the air. What am I? she wonders. She only knows she has never seen something as beautiful as the open throat of a bird.

Jan Edwards Hemming


Jan Edwards Hemming hails from the South and holds a BA in English from LSU and an MFA from NYU. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Mackinac, The Rio Grande Review, The Exquisite Corpse, The Weirdlings, and Weave Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife and their two cats and teaches creative writing to children and teens. 

Artwork: Dihaze


This entry was published on July 30, 2017 at 12:09 am and is filed under 25 (July 2017), Archive, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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