Water and Other Remedies
Jessica Newman

The boards of my house are painted a color that looks unpainted, as though the house survived years and gale. The few things I own have not found where in this house they fit. I sweep sawdust into corners. The house is roughened yet. In the dark I scrape my hand along the walls—my feet do not yet know their way. Somewhere is a boat tied to something stable. It is not seaworthy. I do not trust it on the lake.

Mostly I sit on the wooden steps searching out splinters and minding the water. The lake never seemed heavy enough for land. Its murky gray battles cloud. It is held to earth by trees and rock and occasional sparks of mica. The circling path that gives it bounds. The algae weighting its waters.

The lake holds girls with teeth mossed like stone. Their hair moves whatever way it likes. This is how I know they are underwater, movement too slurred for air. The girls move like waves and I think, These girls are clearly metaphors. What does that make me?

Still on the steps I work to remove their rough. I know how to unfurl my time. I spent my younger hours practicing alone—a sudden dearth of father. I have spent time in corners. I inch out my minutes until sky alludes to night and my hands become approximations of hands.

Come dark there are strains of moon in the girls’ flesh. The lake glints with the light of them.

I assume the beauty of their eyes. They demure behind corneas thickened to increase depth of dive. Water pushes at the softer parts of them with so many tiny hands. Barely a reflex of pupil. From what dim do they see?

They strain the lake with their hair, rise from water with leaves and mayflies and all manner of detritus combed into these strands and if they all surfaced together the lake would be emptied of its creatures.

I have disengaged phone from cradle. Let my mail moulder.

In a city are friends, family, strangers, living and dying in a way that means nothing to me.

The girls lie womanly. They lounge in the shallows but shy from approach, slip back into the lake’s darker waters. I rarely try for close. The gravel stings my feet. I barely swim. I do not know if they would save me.

Jessica Newman lives in Brooklyn, where it seems writers tend to congregate. Her work has been published in elimae, Caketrain, Unsaid, Birkensnake, and elsewhere. She has a tattoo that includes the words “out of skin” and whenever she sees Corium’s tagline, “beneath the skin,” she thinks for a second she is reading something she has written.