Rachel Ann Girty is a writer and classical singer based in Chicago. Her poetry and fiction have recently appeared in The Briar Cliff Review, Imagine This! An Artprize Anthology, Perfume River Poetry Review, and Body Parts Magazine, and her poetry will soon appear in The Fem. A graduate of Northwestern University, she is the 2016 winner of the Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award and an awardee of an Academy of American Poets prize. She was born and raised in Michigan.

Also by Rachel Ann Girty: Shed Shed Shed Collapse

August 10, 2016

Rachel Ann Girty


being thirteen and seeing there were places on the body that were meat but everyone was afraid to call them meat and other places wracked with longing for motion and feeling like I was the connective tissue in between. ready to be sliced. being thirteen and hearing catechists avoid the first person like an oracle like a medical journal like ecclesiastes. knowing a soul was only a misconstruance. not having read Faulkner but having heard what he said about purity or what he said one character said about purity in a book that was just a furious tangle of sounds to someone who was only thirteen. thirteen and for four years I'd known how to shift my weight in my chair at school, both to push against the pain and to keep from bleeding through. not being able to swallow a tablet of motrin yet. chewing it, tasting it instead. feeling the meat of my esophagus try to reject it. not rejecting it. being thirteen and waking up twelve mornings a month with blood under my nails and scrubbing it out as soon as I could. letting shame wrench itself into my abdomen. thinking I didn't deserve that motrin. because of where my fingers went at night. because I couldn't control their ache for warmth, or wouldn't. then the singleness of pain. getting lost in its purity. letting it swim through me as I learned to swim through too.

In The Sound and the Fury, Mr. Compson tells his son, "Purity is a negative state and therefore contrary to nature." I heard this quote long before I read the book, and I took it way out of context. Still, I wonder whether there's such a thing as additive purity, whether — just for a moment— an influx of something into the body, something like pain or lust or shame, can be all-consuming and unadulterated.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
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