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Paper Covers Rock

September 7, 2009

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Paper Covers Rock (one of the two runners-up), by Chella Courington

I
I can’t stop buying scissors. I walk into Home Depot for geraniums & lilies, leave with gardening shears, green ergonomic handles. Gelson’s for halibut. Shiny poultry shears. At a garage sale I find a pair of hedge clippers. By December paper cutters, pinking shears, hair trimmers — any blades you want are boxed in the kitchen pantry.

II
Saturday he takes his 14 clubs & disappears. In hot water, I clean scissors. Prop them on the counter before drying with muslin. Each blade I shine with baking soda. In high school I hung with cutters. They used whatever worked — broken glass, coat hangars, paper. Arms tracked with violet scars like stretch marks, hidden under long-sleeve shirts.

III
Reflections in a Golden Eye: Mrs. Langdon uses garden shears to clip her nipples when she loses her baby. Snip snip — easy as pinching off deadheads. Sunday in January, I hold my left nipple between the blades of barber shears. Warm steel triggers goose bumps. Is a nipple like a finger? Can they sew it back on?

IV
Recurrent dream: blades-down, scissors drop from the ceiling, rattling & hissing. Impale the cherry nightstand, down comforter, my Land’s End bathrobe. I crouch in the tub, rocking to the sound of hail. Open my thigh — blood a rusty penny melting on my tongue.

V
I get an Alabama divorce. He signs the papers & hauls his Titliest clubs, La-Z-Boy, & mahogany desk back to Illinois. Parting words: The cat stays with you. I keep Moot, the crystal, & the condo. Start selling the scissors on E-Bay, box by box.

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With a Ph.D. in British and American Literature and an M.F.A. in Poetry, Chella Courington teaches writing and literature at Santa Barbara City College. Having moved west with a fiction writer and two cats in 2002, she finds that California provides her imaginative space. Her recent poetry appears in Mademoiselle’s Fingertips, Permafrost, wicked alice, Iguana Review, and The New Verse News. Her first chapbook, entitled Southern Girl Gone Wrong, was published in 2004.

  1. September 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Wow! That was a great read. I’m looking forward to seeing more from your book!

  2. John Reskusich
    September 8, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Creepy. I like it.

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