Shelby Schultz

1.

Exiting the bath, stepping on the mat,
my raisin toes are a numb measure
of foot to head, of steps
to the ocean. I always think it’s
only two too long red lights away
but I don’t trust close 

since Mandy, who could lip sync
my anecdotes, confessed
that she wished she loved women
like me —

not remembering the photos of Claire
that I tossed and I turned
into her smiling at me. Forgetting the
sweater sleeves that eclipsed my palms
so that she couldn’t feel me reaching,
flying to perch in her passenger’s seat
or in the floodlight of her
attention. Ignoring the pang of
every feeling hushed like words
muted by raging AC. 

I turn on the fan and it rotates
like my neck, craning to look away,
as we dressed in the locker room after PE.
Then, it stares me down and licks
my goosebumps. I wonder if I should have
cleaned the towel, a week overdue now,
how I would have for her.
Then, the fan loses interest
just like she did. 

My toes are still crinkled and naked
and susceptible and she’s an ocean,
far and away and unknowable. 

2.

They call it an active imagination
but in it I’m passive at best. Her
voice inscribed like a vinyl disc
corroding lines in my mind,
pulling my eyelids closed
as it spawns an aborted almost memory. 

But first, I must put on the shirt
that she bought me in Missouri –
the only soft reality. I have to bury myself
in the comforter and wish it was heavy
like a sinking ship, the one floating in the tub,
circling the drain, tugged down by
all of the dirt and Dramamine,
but never escaping.

Clogged, not moving,
stagnation isn’t sustentation. 


Shelby Schultz is a third-year Radio/Television/Film and Asian American Studies student from Dallas, Texas. She is currently working on a poetry project about Kitty Genovese.