Two poems by Danielle Jones-Pruett
The Year My Life Became Every Movie With a Diner in It
I wore a Day-Glo orange uniform, stood behind the chrome-edged bar. I served you scrambled eggs and grits with jam, and wiped the same two feet of counter so I could watch your jaw tense and untense while you chewed. But when you stopped coming, I still had to stand behind the counter, had to pass the white rag with kelly green stripes across the freckled linoleum. My skin soaked up the bleach. The lunettes of my nails all but disappeared. I changed my dollar bills into quarters, fed them into the wink of jukebox, playing the same song over and over until the other mid-shift waitress, the one who liked to mother me, started to roll her eyes. One day I slouched onto the floor, my back against the cold stainless steel of the lettuce cooler. I could feel the floor-grit on the back of my knees because I refused to wear pantyhose. Pantyhose would make it all too real. The smell of bacon made me ravenous and nauseous all at once, in a way that only other women will understand. Some other women. I’ll never tell you what song was playing. How afraid I was to become the smell of bacon frying.
was the same year you lost one of yours. Not in the market or the coat closet, but to the surgeon’s knife. Your chest flat as a boy’s on the left side. Flatter. Concave, muscle scooped out with a melon baller. But you didn’t stop wearing tank tops. Didn’t think twice about reaching across the table for the butter, revealing the barbed wire scar. It scared me, which is why I started looking at my breasts more closely. Balancing on the edge of the tub so I could see myself in the medicine cabinet mirror, or standing on the counter, bending over until my neck was stiff. I would hold them in my hands, measuring the weight of one against the other. I felt the prickle before I saw it. It felt like a whisker. A pimple? Upon closer inspection a small, grey follicle. I tugged it free and out a feather. So long one might say plume. I rubbed my thumb over the once-smooth lake of my skin and found more feathers rippling to surface, quivering to take flight.
Danielle Jones-Pruett holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cider Press Review, DMQ Review, Midway Journal, Verse Daily, and others. She was recently awarded the John Holmes Award which, as far as she knows, has nothing to do with the porn star.