by Charlotte Hamrick

Mamma bought the kimono from a charmer in a carnival traveling through town and swore it possessed special powers. “When your heart feels so bruised it’s like a puddle of mud, put this on,” she said. “These will be my arms wrapped around you and it’ll remind you there’s a different world out there waiting for you.”

A light rain began to fall as I crouched under the branches of the old oak where the crusty bark was as familiar as saltines and tomato soup. I gathered Mamma’s kimono closer around me, it’s iridescent blues and oranges glowing in the pulse of low lightening overhead. The sting on my cheek was slowly fading beneath the bone and blood of my face, settling into the scarred layers hidden there. One too many punches had driven Mamma into a world more predictable than the one I lived in.

Out there seems far away and right now is stuck between my ribs like a lump of chewed gum. I can see him through the window, the light from the TV making a halo around him, not like an angel but like an alien glowing acid that might dissolve you if touched. His stained fingers twist the top off another beer, the piss-yellow liquid spilling on his chest as he miscalculates the upswing.

I  sigh and trace the embroidery on the kimono, the stitches running over it like veins of blood. As the rain falls, wet cloth encircles me in a moist, silky womb. The flickering TV screen lulls me into a soft hum and I sink into a stupor of half dream, half memory where Mamma appears, her face near to bursting with a smile that looks like Jesus leaving the tomb. Threads from my kimono began to drift toward her, ethereal tentacles weaving themselves into an umbilical cord pulling us together. When our bodies touch, her arms slide into the kimono sleeves with mine and they feel like a cool poultice on a flayed back. Together we lift our arms to the sky, our kimono swelling into a goddess-born raiment lifting us up and away.

Charlotte Hamrick’s poetry, prose, and photography has been published in numerous online and print journals, most recently including MORIA, The Citron Review, and Flash Frontier. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets. You can find her online at Twitter @CharlotteHam504 and on her website


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