Small Wreckage and Single Girls

by Anne Champion


The women stood at the door
with their rosaries, thrusting
the tiny beads into my hand.

I had been told to have my music on,
or maybe wear a hat, look down,
pay them no mind.

But I took them, repeating
quietly Dickinson’s lines
that had run through
my head all morning:

Shame need not crouch
In a world such as ours.
Shame-stand erect!-
The universe is yours.


Who supports you in your decision today?
I pause, remember something he said
the night before:

Under different circumstances,
I could see you being a really good mother.


You’d think I’d feel godless
the moment my body cried out
and the cramps came in waves
like fists beating at my insides.

But I imagined the Pieta,
in my blurred focus
of the woman standing over me,
not my mother,
cradling my head, placing
the cool washcloth to my brow, caressing
my hand, whispering
It’s okay.
You’re almost done.


My friend that came with me
said that sometimes she regretted it,
sometimes she still awoke
in the middle of the night
dreaming tiny palms beat
at the window to be let in,
but it turns out to be only a branch or rain,
as if the world wants to remind her
that it’s still there.


The night I told him,
he slipped his hand beneath
my robe and caressed me.
Then he crawled beneath the blanket,
stood on his knees, and wrapped
it around his back, before he threw himself
upon me, so that the blanket followed,
inflating like a parachute,
collapsing above our heads.
And then it was like any other time
and every other man I’ve kissed:
everything went black,
and then went black again.


Sex is the only common religion
we all worship.  On our knees,
we become both God and prayer,
devotion in its purest,
most fervent form.
Yet how consistently we
crush our idols.


I asked the woman to see it,
but all there was to see
was a dark spot on the screen,
the shape and size of a lima bean,
a blip on the radar of my life,
small wreckage to be sunk
in the vast ocean,


When I came to, the woman
guided me to a wheelchair.
I asked for something to vomit in,
and began creating a hierarchy of pain,
running moments through my head
that hurt worse-the tattoo I got when
I was eighteen, the broken thumb,
the infected wisdom teeth,
a broken heart.

for Adrinna Morris

We are not the women on TV,
not the women of light and shadows,
sitting at bars, looking at each other
through the transparent colors
of glowing red, green, purple, and blue
we sip on, no crescent lemon twist
lying at the bottom of the martini glass,
nothing to make us feel wild
and desirable.


This world was not designed for one.
The monthly rent and bills assume at least two,
a couple to justify the cost.
Everywhere we turn we see
“value” and “family size;”
a box of macaroni and cheese
becomes a waste of money and food
and then there’s the stench
of old produce and expired milk;
we scour grocery aisles
for small cans of beans.


I lay on your bed in sweatshirt and jeans,
and you’re in your pajamas listening
to me cry, again, over him.
You have your new baby on your knee
and she can’t stop crying either.
I ask relentlessly, When? How?
I am a broken machine.


Your daughter is marvelous
in her lack of a past.  Her skin,
translucent with the first bloom of life,
her wondrous brown eyes,
shiny marbles gazing up at me.
I don’t want to believe
that she, too, will have to reinvent
herself over and over again
and, like us, hope
to be good at it someday.


Tonight the moon shows
only her good side.
The other side is slid neatly
into the sky’s darkness
like a slit in an envelope.
She does this sometimes, slips
part of herself quietly from sight,
forced to go under.

Anne Champion recently finished her MFA in Poetry at Emerson College. She has work previously published in Our Time is Now, The Minnetonka Review, Pank Magazine, The Aurorean, and elsewhere.  She was also a 2009 recipient of The Academy of American Poets Prize.  She currently teaches Freshman
Composition at Emerson College, Pine Manor College, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
You may read some of her other work at the following links:

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