She Builds Her House Around My Body – Marianne Peel

My mother’s hands scurry
through the junk drawer
searching for the scissors.
Dull blades.  Yellow handles.

She corners me
in the bathroom. Bends me
over the sink, my back pressed
over the edge.  Formica. 

Scrubbed with Pine Sol.
The fumes dizzy me. Disorient
me, blades brandished
toward my bangs. 

She has no level.  No bowl
to chop around.  Just her cataract eyes,
blurred, to maneuver the shears.
the room begins to gyrate, spiral down. 

I am teetering. Muddied with vertigo.
My mouth plugged with cotton balls.  My ears
stuffed with cotton swabs. My eyes pressed shut.  I tell her
I am going to faint.  That I will disintegrate onto the immaculate
linoleum.  Cleanliness is next to godliness, she always told me. 
We could eat off this floor. She always told me.

And then a surge of steel. A blaze of blade.
And I am gone.  


Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash


After having taught middle and high school English for 32 years, Marianne is now nurturing her own creative spirit.  She has spent three summers in Guizhou Province, teaching best practices to teachers in China. She received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal (2003) and Turkey (2009). Marianne participated in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop (2016).  Marianne’s poetry appears in Muddy River Poetry Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Jelly Bucket Journal, Gyroscope Review, among others. Marianne was a finalist for the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Contest (2020), and she was longlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize (2021). Further, she received 3rd Place Poetry Award in Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Contest.  In addition, her chapbook was a finalist in Comstock Review’s Jesse Brice Niles Chapbook Contest.   She has a collection of poetry, No Distance Between Us, published in 2021 by Shadelandhouse Modern Press.

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