Elizabeth Wade

This is the way it will happen: you will fall asleep to the sound of rain and awake in a grove of pines. Your skin will grow flushed. Your sense of smell will become heightened. Your fingernails will split and splinter. Do not expect a clearing or path. See thicket. See debris. See a hand. Take it. It will be larger than you expect. It will be softer. Let it lead you. Think of how it could cover parts of your body, how it would conceal an entire breast, how it would palm the slope of your sacrum, encompass the swell of your calf. You know this hand will never do these things. Think of them anyway. Think of the doctor who advised, a body knows how much it can take. Trust your instincts. Take caution. Take care. Remember the way you learned to smell gardenias, how you grasp the stem, bend your head into the cup of petals and inhale along the length of your body, how your stomach expands with the fragrant air. Think of your mother’s response when the petals browned, how she trained you with her sighs, how you learned to turn your head before exhaling, how you discovered how to take something into your body without leaving a mark. Let your mind take up that large, soft hand. Let its fingers trace the bow of your clavicle. Consider the word clavicle, how it once meant key, meant tendril. Think of opening up, of latching on. Guide each finger there, there, there. Take hold. Take heed. Make way.

Elizabeth Wade’s work has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from such journals as Kenyon Review Online, AGNI, Oxford American, DIAGRAM, and others. She spent a number of years believing, incorrectly, that she shared a birthday with Grover Cleveland. She actually shares a birthday with James Garfield. As a Scorpio, she should be good at solving mysteries. But she is not very good with mysteries or coyness, and she still wonders what you meant that time you said that thing.