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Linne Ebbrech-

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Returning

I have been trying to remind myself
that kindness is only kindness –

it’s what people try to give
as much as they can,

perhaps for what comes after or
a guilt free pillow to sleep upon.

Perhaps it is just humanity
helping

humanity – leaving
themselves behind

for just a moment, to hold
a hand. To stitch a wound.

They must go back
to themselves – you must go back

to yourself. Lick your
wounds. Hold yourself together.

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Pelts

“We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err.”       -Henry Beston, The Outermost House

Take a small axe. Remove my feet and tail at the hairline. Take a knife
and cut me, from my base of what’s left of my tail to my belly and stop
at the bottom of my lip. Switch knives now – the one with the rounded end.

This will fit cleanly underneath my skin. You will pull
it away from my muscle. Peel it away from the rest of me,
the way you will slip off your socks after this day’s work.

On this fleshing beam, my skin becomes your skin now. As you scrape
away the last of the pink tissue, my hide shows white. My skin
becomes paper. My skin becomes profit.

How could you not recognize the genius beneath
the water. You mistake nations for nuisance. You
mistake earthlings for mere things.

This is the way my world works – without my knowing. The home
I’ve built becomes a trap I could never predict. I leave,
I am stopped

by metal – sharp and unforgiving.
I panic
for fifteen minutes. I drown for ten minutes more.

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The Noises You Don’t Want to Hear

I think it was April when my Mom got the call, she was cleaning
and she didn’t stop
even after she hung up.

I assume my Grandpa told her
“Brian’s dead” – that he was found in his apartment, that
he had electrocuted himself.

I remember how she kept cleaning
the kitchen table with a damp paper towel and how
she was crying and the way her words

sounded like they were caught in her stomach and
almost didn’t get out. She asked him
“What?” – hoping

that somehow Grandpa had made some sort of mistake
in his simple sentence.  I remember that I
was in the next room over when Mom got the call and when she hung

up, I asked her “what happened?” and she told me
that her brother was gone – gone – not dead.
Missing.

I remember not saying anything else, just walking to my room
and sitting at my desk and scrolling through Facebook. I listened
to my Mom still moving downstairs.

She came to my room, I think
ten minutes later, to check on me –
and asked if I was okay

I remember I wasn’t crying when I told her
that I was. Her eyes were red and full. Her body
reacting.

Her body still moving in her
responsibilities as a mother and a wife.
I remember

she still made dinner that night.

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Drag

I imagine that I feel
the way a smoked cigarette looks –
The filter yellowed and broken
in from being held too roughly

and taking deep and deadly breaths
from me. I am
an expensive price to pay. I am
your bad

habits – coming back
to me is so easy, even once
I’ve blackened your lungs
and took away

a year from your life.

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Virtuoso

There are things you don’t want
to hear from your mother – like when she tells you
that “you don’t have to sleep with a boy
to get him to like you.”

It’s a sort of backhanded compliment
when she tells you this. A slap
across the face that tells you that – Hey,
at least you’re good at

something. She’s always been good
at telling you these things, the way you’ve
mastered the art of showing up in beds
that are not yours and making them

disappear. Making the boys come
and go.

In a way, you prove
your mother wrong. They like you
for at least twenty minutes and they tell you
that “They had a good time.”

There are things you don’t want to hear
from your mother – the way she suggests that
your body is not perfect. The way she tells you
“maybe you shouldn’t buy a two-piece this year.”

But those boys will still want to
touch you and you let them – you let them
come and go.

There are things you don’t want to hear from your mother –
like when she meets him and she tells you “he’s handsome.
Just don’t get in his way.” Remember that

boys only like you if you sleep with them – if you let
them touch you. They come and they go

onto something better – that is not so sedentary
and sad. To girls who don’t need
to make the boys stay
with this sort of talent.

To girls who have bodies
that are more difficult to acquire and somehow
easier to touch. They don’t stand in the way. But

some boys will stay, even when you expect them
to go. You expect him to leave –
so you find him every night, desperately.
So that he just might stay.

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Linne Ebbrecht resides in Oswego, NY where she is finishing up her B.A. in Creative Writing at SUNY Oswego. She has poems published in the Great Lake Review and Ishka Bibble. When she isn’t writing she is probably enjoying the outdoors where she finds most of her inspiration.

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