Melissa Barrett: A French Interior,
The Voice of Trauma, & The French
Interior as The Voice of Trauma

A French Interior

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The shrubs rub into leaves, leaves left
in corners, penny red. A dirt path around
the side. A dirty life. Leave it. Think of it,
a cottage: sloping, squat, sodden
battered sky. One lamp limply on, the glow
more gray than gold. Coins pile in corners
carved in shadow; wooden cabinets wink
closed. Old homes have character. Sometimes
they are characters. Holmes is my shelter.
Holden Caulfield is an American Foursquare.
The pages tea-stained, stains steeped
in age. Strewn lily stems as the garden pageant
wanes. Wind me down. I’m winded. Like
the wings of ivy wiping the wisteria green:
Leave me. Close the door on my wooden
unwound quiet. I’m ready for unraveling.
I just don’t want to dread it.

The Voice of Trauma

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is teeth and weed, bleach and scheme. Is timothy welded
to the wrought iron gate. Or Timothy, age eight, still not
weaned. I mean a real boy. They call him Moth,
not Tim, on account of the wings. Call his mother Tulip
Twenty-tulip. You get the gist. She has flowers tattooed
on the insides of her wrists. Petals bloom into letters
bloom into numbers and loom over the heads
of the indebted. The embittered. Which is she. And he?
Not better. A moth is a symbol of allure, truth, and pride.
As in, he truly tried to pry the lid off her worldview.
As in, he bribed a Lowe’s worker for some plywood and screws.
Build a cage; open a zoo. He blew through the green
house to get to the cockatoo. Shot through the turnstile
to learn about bamboo shoots. Stole pride from the lions
because he needed to. Meanwhile mom kneeled and prayed
at the bathtub tide for some wave to watermark,
waterboard, wave goodbye to their W-2s.

The French Interior as
The Voice of Trauma

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I would have tackled the guys. Sacked ’em. I would have
knocked ’em flat out. Says everyone who had no role at all
in 9/11. If I were on that plane, if I were accused, accosted,
if I were in any type of challenging situation at all, if I were
Alex Trebek, I would have never shaved. I’ll take
Movember for $600, Alex. What the fuck is it.
What is all this solidarity behind facial hair. What is solid
but also a liquid? A pitcher of sweet tea, but not a picture
of sweet tea, which is actually nothing, like all pictures,
sweetie. Talk about excessive. Talk about drowning.
I never believed you could drown in a teaspoon of water
till I saw the world’s largest spoon. Till I drowned a gnat.
I didn’t mean to. I want to be the big spoon, I tell
my boyfriend, but I’m lying. I don’t have a boyfriend.
I have a “partner.” He makes art. Pictures. He slept through 9/11.
He has a beard like a swath of black and white ants.
On bad days, he says things like, “I make things and they are just things
and I’m sick of making things.” What if the gnat had babies
to take care of. What if the planes missed. What if his face
really were scrawled with ants. What if all art is useless.


FICTION: Lisa Beebe, Karl Harshbarger, Lauren Johnson, J. Robert Lennon

NONFICTION: Matthew Gavin Frank, Deborah Thompson

POETRY: Melissa Barrett, Thea Brown, Lauren Camp, Sampurna Chattarji, MRB Chelko, Patrick Culliton, John Gallaher, Ricky Garni, Meghan Lee, Kristen Orser, slp, Meghan Privitello, Megan Pugh, Amelia Salisbury, Matt Shears, Raena Shirali, Dolsy Smith, Avni Vyas, Elizabeth Whittlesey, Nicholas Wong

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