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©2019 by Prometheus Dreaming

Secondhand

She reads horror movie plots

in the comments of old blogs,

the goriest bits spoiled

by banal plain-text,

marred only by the stray

typographical error.

 

She had needed no

other woman

to explain the concept of "heavy flow"

or to learn that you felt men's eyes

staring

before you saw them.

 

When the phone rings,

she answers and blurts "What's wrong?"

then waits for an answer

in the careful enunciation

of the pharmacy's automated reminder

to pick up her prescriptions.

 

At twenty-one,

third in her class,

she accepts an internship

reviewing entries to a

"literary nonfiction"

online journal.

(Her friends have never understood

the significance of the word

"literary".)

 

She submits three drafts to the journal

under psuedonyms

on the nature of grief;

they land on her desk.

She forwards them along.

 

The rejection letters were boilerplate,

nothing like the notes

in her coworkers' emails:

"Lacks authenticity. No passion. Feels

like a technical exercise."

 

The emails she left in a folder

and the letters she hung on the fridge

at home, below the photographs;

 

She reads them every morning,

red-eyed, silent,

and again each time she pours a glass of water.

by C. Sebian-Lander

About the Author

C. Sebian-Lander is a former M.F.A. student, now living and working outside of Washington D.C., who habitually writes poetry, at least the first drafts, about the same way he tweets: with very little regard for whether anyone gives a shit, but the assumption that no one does. So it goes.