Maggie Fern attends the Masters of Writing program at Coastal Carolina University. She also serves as an associate poetry editor at the literary journal Waccamaw.

Also by Maggie Fern: Pit

Maggie Fern


I. At the boutique I stand in white, in consideration. There is a mirror, and then there is my mother and my father, he who is careful not to look too long. You look just like your mother, is all he offers. There's something slippery about the dress, its static tulle netted around my hips, a fall of ivory to my bare feet, spilling out of itself like stormlight, white like moon and Arkansas summer like the creek behind the house I grew up in, easily unleashed & unspooled, not easily mine. II. The year after Katrina, my mother brought me to St. Mary's Assumption in New Orleans & stood me in the open wound where she married my father, the tiles now sunken & muddy, the pillars ringed yellow four feet high, & half the pews pulled away or rotted by the storm surge. I was 13 when she stood at the altar & began sighing a homily of all the things she has lost: not the hollow aisle or the altar. Just a city, just her finger. She looked to me & said: You won't follow me here. III. Every year since then, she's been transfixed by water. I sense her fear now, her eyes now like her eyes then, when she watched the creek unfurl during the October that saw twenty-three days of rain, when the dogs howled with their backs against the house, howls like whimpers as the glass night crept closer, almost imperceptible in its large crawl — Too much skin, she eyes my chest, her eyes flickering toward my father, toward a memory watered down with gin, her glass dropped in a question: Are you sleeping with her? It was the lie that drowned her. She's still picking at her skin, mildewed in denial, still edging away from my father when his glance catches mine. I wonder how she'll take it when he walks me down the aisle, gives me to a man who ends the question. Will she understand that I was never his to give?

A few months before I married my husband, I came across the word trousseau, which is just a fancy way to refer to the clothing and belongings collected by a bride for her wedding. I began considering what I would wear on that day, particularly how I would inhabit a space that has always belonged to my mother, taking it on almost like a borrowed dress.

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