"Her, Bodily" by prose finalist Sarah Pape

Her, Bodily

Montgomery Wards. The name on our lawn mower connected by a thread to the nametag shining on her breast. Glass sheen walkway and a country of beds, shoe on shoe on shoe, and the box full of gold. Mom stands behind it. I see her skirt through the glass she tells me not to touch. Lets me hold the red ruby ring.

I wanted the Hush Puppies. Tassels. Little moustaches shimmying over the puckered toes.

Homeward, we slide over the truck bench, DadMeMom. The scent of sunrust, the sweat and perfume soaking through blouse tied at the throat. How she would pull the sash loose, exposing her moles—constellation over the rise of breast flesh.

There was the moment of crossing the green bridge before the rise of land and road. The truck spasmed—halted—at the base of the ascent. What did I know about distance until we opened the doors into darkness, held hand into hand and began stepping?

I was too big, but she held me. Held my body in long stretches. Arrived to the pay phone fused like an animal with two heads, a bouquet of sweating limbs. Where did Dad go? He came for us, I know. He went the other way in the dark.

Bessy, he named her. The truck that never carried us again.


Sarah Pape teaches English and works as the Managing Editor of Watershed Review at Chico State. Her poetry and prose has recently been published in: Passages North, Ecotone, Crab Orchard Review, Harpur Palate, The Pinch, Smartish Pace, The Collapsar, Pilgrimage, The Squaw Valley Review, The Superstition Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She curates community literary programming and is a member of the Quoin Collective, a local letterpress group. Check out her website for more: www.sarahpape.com.