Dysmorphia (Autumn)

I dig to the bottom of the suitcase to find
something warm, wool to welcome
the holy season of covering up. I’ve read
that any set of thighs can look desirable
in the right light, but somehow the light is
always wrong, though here in the woods
far from my usual disguises, the light
is sugared with stars, showered with meteors,
shimmered with ash and shotgun shells.
The cashier at the grocery says there hasn’t
been a shooting for months so I can take off
my safety vest. Relieved to no longer be so
visible, I walk, shifting my shame from heel
to ball and back again. No one has shoveled
the should-haves, piles of them strewn
in a shambles. All the paths I didn’t take.
Once I had a student who carried a lemon
in his coat because he liked the way
it made his fingers smell. I admire that kind
of commitment, but I’d rather pocket a pine cone,
rough and unraveling its loud spiny mouth.
I’d rather be that open, but my hours
of operation keep changing. When I reach
the shore of the river, a battered canoe
could be a steamship from this distance.
It could be my Titanic. It could be my ticket out.


Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016), and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago, where she hosts the monthly online reading series A Hundred Pitchers of Honey.