“Sarah’s Mother Makes Her Long Dresses of Lace” by Claudia Cortese

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Claudia Cortese


to hide the wooden brace, slight limp.
Darker than inside a locket, more pungent—
what wood wouldn’t love to live there,

thinks Frankie, the neighbor boy
who’s never said a word to her. He watches
Sarah flick her foot through sand, write tangerine

and starblade and dead girls glow prettiest.
She braids and unbraids her hair, sticks a stick
through a caterpillar—throws one green half

in the grass. Puts the other in her mouth.
Gimp-girl, they say, Limp-a-rella—the ugly Cinderella.
Because she smells of cinder & matchsticks,

wears homemade hand-me-downs—
a patchwork sweater, fox stole, ostrich
feathers in her hair. He sees her at her window,

thinks she studies raindrops on glass, how sad
and brief each life—dissolving
on the sill seconds after they bloom.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011