Margot Douaihy, PhD, is a queer writer and editor. She is the author of ‘Scranton Lace’ and ‘Girls Like You,’ both published by Clemson University Press. Her true-crime poetry project, ‘Bandit Queen: The Runaway Story of Belle Starr,’ will be published in 2021. Douaihy’s work has been featured in PBS NewsHour, Madison Review, and Colorado Review, among others.
Trees drink through roots, so they must have mouths, pores too small to see with our eyes. Maybe it’s not where to look for grace—but how. Climbing the wisteria staircase, petals press my skin like they want in—existence a secret too wild to contain. Dripping perfume, blooms cascading, each tiny flower the living shape of a face, or a deliberate animal—a woman on her knees. Praying for forgiveness isn’t about redemption, it’s about being seen. I’ve confessed to things I didn’t even do just to be noticed, to feel the heat of rebuke, stain sanctified by stain. & when I cannot stop writing you, it’s that spiral—reeling—to feel again & again the gentle fracture, too deep inside to see, invisibly thirsty as the mouth of a tree, the slight give of my ribs when you said Don’t leave, climbing on top to blindfold me.
I plan ahead—it’s one of my strengths—so it’s no surprise I made $100 in bitcoin &, sure, it cost $200 to open my cryptoaccount, but the interest will soon pay for one gumdrop which is better than real money because gumdrops are contemporary sorcery, but what I really want to find are the candy cigarettes of my youth, those chalky candies with real paper wrappers sold in the hard box that looked like smokes I bought for Aunt G when I was ten but it was one of the days she was too sick to get out of bed—We’re an addiction family, Dad said, get used to it—& Aunt G called from next door on the landline & threw enough cash at me to buy smokes & keep the change & isn’t it amazing that a store sold Lucky Strikes to ten-year-olds in the olden days then & isn’t it amazing how candy cigarettes let kids enjoy two vices simultaneously (real candy & smoking practice) & how amazing it is to be any age at all because as we finally step into the new age, the new self, it’s time for the next number, & how stunning to carry every age within one body, the sun-storm of one & the confident five-year-old & the surging supernova of teen & the chemical spill of twenty & the veins overlapping in midlife all ages interlocked the way tree rings not only tell time but hold time & how amazing, when I asked my Aunt G, What’s your favorite breakfast? she replied, in typical Lebanese style, This coffee & cigarette, & returned contently to the coffee & cigarette in front of her & how amazing it is to sit inside a moment, whatever moment, rather than outside, thinking about the next step, the next word, one hand on the doorknob, one finger on the inbox, refreshing, refreshing, waiting for the next something else when being inside a moment so fully it doesn’t feel like a moment at all is what’s amazing.
MY TWIN SISTER’S DAUGHTER THINKS I AM HER MOTHER
My twin sister’s daughter thinks I am her mother since twin voices are identical. Being a mother is witchcraft! my twin sister whispershouts as we watch her tiny daughter sleep. When my twin sister’s daughter stirs, I sing to her & she smiles in her sleep because I sing as horribly as her mother. My mother tells me to wipe the milk that has collected under the chin of my twin sister’s daughter who sleeps in the fog light of Tuesday night. My twin sister’s daughter has more of a resemblance to our mother than my twin sister or me. My twin sister’s daughter has learned to grab her own hands & hold them tight as a pious mother, but in the peachpit of Tuesday night she reaches for my hands which are encoded with the same fingerprints as my twin sister. I call my twin sister’s daughter Little Mother because I saw it in a movie once & liked it. My twin sister’s daughter is the one right thing in the family after many chapters of many wrong things. In the zodiac year that dragged like knuckle-skin across brick, when the blackouts were bad, when my sister would not stop sobbing, my twin became my daughter. My twin sister’s daughter is smiling in her sleep because the way I butcher The Wheels on the Bus is the same as my twin sister. You don’t need me, you have each other, our mother used to say through the keyhole when we asked if she would open the door & let us in. I do not have a daughter, but if I did, I’d wish for her the smarts of my twin sister with none of my Saturn strangeness. The milk has crusted under the chin of my twin sister’s daughter & the moon—confused as a communion wafer on the tongue of a ghost—spins the nursery room into a mirror & I remember our shared crib, twin girls holding onto opposite sides, learning how to grow apart together.
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?
The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.
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