By KAYLI WREN
a girl washes dishes in place of her mother
frothy soap and sticky water
clean her fingernails as her father sits at the table,
chin propped on one hand
a boy plays with ants
crawling on his knees and pressing down grass blades
clearing a path to help them reach home
sweat beads on a woman’s upper lip
fingernails dig into soft skin
she screams and clenches and pushes
as he brushes back her hair
young people count down from three
they break each other’s hearts
and skip the part where they should
dance to old records
they carve hollow spaces in each other’s chests
leave the matter
lungs and heart and pieces of the diaphragm
back in the car where they said goodbye
people crack each other open and
heal each other again.
people exchange threads
from unravelling balls of yarn they hold,
collecting strands from the people who touch them
the world is getting thicker and fuller of yarn
that grows and overlaps and gets twisted
as we are born and kill and love
as we meet each other’s eyes and breathe each other’s air
when a woman dies,
she will drop her ball of yarn to the floor.
people will feel the slack
and her son will fumble along the ground,
reaching along the rope she isn’t a part of
hands deep in the spider web she made.
the childhood best friend
the neighbor who always smiled at her,
each on her line of connections.
having felt the slack and having followed it,
they will gather around her fallen yarn
and raise it off the floor together.
Kayli Wren is in her senior year of high school in Virginia. She has previously been published in Canvas Literary Journal, Literary Orphans, Quail Bell Magazine, and GirlSense & NonSense. In addition to writing, she enjoys acting in theater productions, knitting, and baking lemon squares.