by Deirdre Hickey
When I was only eleven you called me Aphrodite, sticking your finger into my hips, when my body first began to look a little more like yours. Already you told me I had what you wanted, a body ripe like a hummingbird, smooth fruit of sliced peach, bones dripping with sweet wine, strained riesling marrow, skin and bone and flesh spilling outwardly. How long has it been since you called me angel face, or chestnut? Little dove? Combed my hair through your fingers and sang to my limp eyes. I came from your body, bump in warm skin, flowered veins stretching over my swaddled frame. You’ve held so many lifetimes in your stomach, round-faced babies, thumbs pressing against the warmth and the pink of your crib. Like a solar system, your stomach orbited around the years of your life like a celestial body. Was it all a disguise? You presented yourself as a sculptor, traced your index along my waist, saw me as a creation. You built me in your stomach, felt like Apollo at Delphi as you limped to the glass viewing windows, watched as my baby fingers cradled each other. I want to know what it felt like in the dark, before my eyes struggled open. I don't want to go my whole life without ever feeling that close again. Flesh in flesh, body from body, blood from blood. Tell me I’ll find love like that in another person, like our bodies came from one another, lips woven at the seams, spilling with that same wine locked in with marrow. Hands that can swallow mine, hands that trace sacred. Mom, like me, did the angels stand guard around your bed? Your mothers? Do the birds suddenly appear when you do, do the stars fall down from the sky just to land wherever your feet might step? Mom, do you ever stand in my doorway while I sleep, listening to my steady breath rise up to the ceiling? Do you wish also that I might have never left your stomach, that when you die I go with you? Together we might fall back to the dirt we rose from, to the angels that molded our scalp from moonrock, harbored in the womb-like obsidian, ocean of somethingness that we call Heaven, only your clutch of my wrist keeping us together.
Ribbon of Life
by Jane Zich
Deirdre Hickey is a senior residential writing student at The South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and Humanities. She has won nearly a dozen awards in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards and received a National Merit from Youngarts this previous year.
Jane Zich is a San Francisco Bay Area artist. Her painting process relies heavily on imagery from the unconscious and focuses on humankind’s relationship with animals, the environment, and each other. Her award-winning work has been juried into numerous national shows and is featured in psychology, art, and literary publications.