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Rebecca van Laer
Rebecca van Laer grew up in Georgia and New York. She holds a degree from Cornell University and is currently an MFA candidate at Boston University,
where she mostly writes about Wizard of Oz characters.
The girl with the red hair speaks

Autumn lasts
only one week here,
the poplar trees shocked
all summer by the egg-
frying heat, ready by August
to blush and cower

so the rusty skyline tumbles
into the earth, so parched
the grass has grown gray and sparse
showing the body beneath. The strata
drips into one shade
before the leaves’
winter strip and bare it.

I’m still floating laps
in the aquamarine pool, grasping
towards the white walls, flooding
my eyes with summer’s incandescent hue.


I didn’t know
what was inside of me
bursting or growing
what might fall out,
bloom upwards or wilt
if I opened my eyes,
left the pool’s embryonic blue:
what would seep
if I didn’t leave
five fingers pressed to my stomach in my sleep.


So much time spent
in the bathroom
with my face cooled
against the paisley wallpaper

I became familiar
with every pore, each abscess
and every grotesque
pushing outwards,

same as the veins in the palm,
the blood spoking out of an iris,
something dark spidering out:
a white surface swept unclean.


In the night, in the night
I wake
they say
you can’t die
in a dream
I wake
curled knees to nose
and hair sticking
glossy, matted
to the nape
to the lids, to the lips
my fingers grasping
flesh and cotton.

What is it
that pushes the red
out of us?