I’d rather you ask than stare so. I’d rather the impertinent question than the darting away of guilty eyes. This crude stitching, this ladder up my face—deerskin leather cord, a rush job, the closest thing to hand at the time. The hasty tailoring of my prime meridian starts in a rude place and crawls up my belly and my chest and this ruined face of mine, over my skull and down my neck, and traces the line of my spine only to end in rudeness again. I was torn in two—yes by my own hand, but that’s not the point. I was torn in two by betrayal and heartbreak. Don’t you know the story?
My left is bitter and vengeful. My left dreams of millers’ daughters drowning in hay, choked by spun gold. My left sharpens daggers in its spare time.
My right longs for the weight of a child to bounce. My right grieves its empty arm, its hollow half a heart. My right paints the nursery, over and over again.
These stitches, my bloody anchor.
Jasmine Sawers is a Kundiman fellow whose fiction appears in such journals as Ploughshares, AAWW’s The Margins, SmokeLong Quarterly, and more. Sawers serves as Associate Fiction Editor for Fairy Tale Review and debuts a collection through Rose Metal Press in 2023. Originally from Buffalo, Sawers now lives and pets dogs outside St. Louis.
Artwork: Minjae Lee, Hangover