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Mother Murders Marion Crane

by Ruth Towne

On the bathroom floor, dark clothes over white tiles. Behind a gold curtain, a plastic one; translucent, it transmutes the steam that rises

to skylight. The mirror frames my form, waits for fog. I avert my eyes. A towel for sheepskin, I model Eve in this bathroom, my private Eden,

embarrassed by my own breasts. A shower scene in impressionist style: I look through my nudity not at it, distort what form I recognize in outline

of pelvic bone or line of shoulder to shoulder art unattainable. Unclean, unclean, unclean, calls the water stream. Penitence—in my confessional,

the porcelain walls force a certain discourse, exact from the body a holiness the body cannot bare. Honey, or the synthetic scent of something sweet,

in humid air drifts. Just once, couldn’t I be Venus with her distant stare? Our emotional reticence presents as emptiness. Gentle as it is, my gentle

conditioner teases my eyes, but no tears. I stand in the half-shell of my tub, face to the porcelain, place the spout to my back. Between what’s in,

what’s out, one strikes a careful balance. Conditioner retreats with shampoo, coils the drain eventually. I share the sin of all women: nudity signifies divinity.

If I approve my bare reflection, I cast own idol. Here acceptance, my own golden calf, grows from what I am willing to sacrifice, my modesty,

an heirloom from my mother and her mother too. I melt it down in this crucible, my comfort rises as dross. I, the idolater, know the price exacted

of the one who tolerates her own bare body: in a cup she receives back that acceptance ground to powder. Punished, she drinks until that cup is clean, clean,

clean. Long light lavender strokes conceal blank body. No artist paints me. I paint myself. The canvas lays stiff, a corpse, but the mirror remains ever animate. Nudity demands divinity not dignity. Venus uncovers her other bare breast to wave a hand at the emperor who commissioned the scene. He stands clothed

in invisible robes. I bend to shave my legs, imitate the upright shave’s unstable pose, propaganda’s flat affect. Adolescent, I am a girl unprepared for razor.

It carves long red lines behind the crease of my knee and into my shin. Still, the razor cuts me. Naked, I bleed and bleed. I am oil and acrylic on fabric,

I am marble, and I am a feeble old woman, who prays not to fall in her shower, not to die, unclothed, alone. Clean, I emerge and swaddle myself in cotton to dry.

Ruth Towne is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program. Her poetry has recently appeared in Grim & Gilded, Plainsongs Poetry Magazine, New Feathers Anthology, The Orchard Poetry Review, The Decadent Review, Inlandia Literary Journal, and Beyond Words Literary Magazine. She has a forthcoming publication in Mantis Poetry Journal. She hopes someday to become a respected gardener.


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