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Posing for Aunt Sandy

I am twelve in the mirror
of my mother's oak dresser
when that radio chokes
out a slow country song
and the room is a lens closing
around us. Hold them, she says,
turns my two palms over,
and I pose with a gel breast
in one, wig in the other.

The shine of my June hair falls
straight to my navel, past two
crescent moons tangled in tree.
Aunt Sandy's head is all the night,
all the heat of our last summer
drive when she'll die rough
as a car. That Montana sun,
that shoulderless road. A radiator
heaving with one dusty lung.

When death rattles its infant
born to die in my aunt's liver
it tears all the wet paper
of my mother's mind.
She will never be more
than a front-row chair.
I turn my hands from the blue
music of rain, to cup
one breast, one artifact.

Click here to listen to Lisa Fay Coutley reading "Posing for Aunt Sandy"

Lisa Fay Coutley is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University where she teaches writing and serves as an Assistant Poetry Editor for Passages North. She also holds an MA in creative nonfiction. Her poetry has appeared in The Brooklyn Review, Eclipse, Terminus, Ibbetson Street, and others.  She blogs at

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