À La Carte: On Buying My Mother a Mirror

it is three o’clock in the afternoon
i am asleep when your principal calls
the day has eaten its way through my eyelids
you cannot know the little things

when you call me i am asleep
it is the only thing that stops the crying
you cannot know the little things
how easily i come undone like a shoelace

you are inconsolable and crying
never before have i met a child
so frantic at the un-coming of a shoelace
i am so worried you will end up like me

never before have i wanted a child
but here is your small pink skin
in delivery i pray you do not end up like me
you come out covered in blood anyways

once i opened the small pink skin of me
to let you peek out not to open yours
look at you, covered in blood again
once i tried to ice skate on my skin, too

you are peeking out from the opening
between the plus-sized curtains in my closet
we are leaving for ice skating lessons
i am envying how your young body is barely there

i am between plus-sized curtains in my bed
it is three o’clock in the afternoon
you are bloody, everything i worried you would be
the day eats its way through my eyelids

once, your small pink body was inside me
raveled up like a shoelace and i wondered
what if you came undone?


Jess Nieberg (they/them) is a queer Jewish poet living in Boulder, CO. They were a semifinalist at the national poetry slam and are a current member of the Denver Mercury Team. They are an editor for two journals, Walkabout and Timber. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Permafrost, Western Humanities Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Bottlecap Press, and The Hunger, among others.