Amanda Skjeveland

Reconstructing a World

My fingers push against the slick, flat print to seek the perfect globs of paint, and deeper still, the pale cotton covering her sharp shoulders and spine. I slide across the shadows on her back, sensing the sources that cast them: her arm, her sleeve, her wind-blown black hair, and feel my hand on Wyeth's as he works his brush, like a girl waltzing atop her father's feet. When the paint rises from underneath the print to kiss my fingertips, I know I can possess her, intrude on her dystrophied frame, my insistent probing enough to penetrate her so I can play what-ifs and measure: crawling crippled and alone. Yet, she turns from me with taloned grip upon the grass, denying me my empathy. The print drifts now on the seeded yellow stalks of my own yard and I drop to the ground, willing my legs to numbness as I pull myself along with failed ignorance of scratchy grass against skin rubbed red and itchy; even stubborn limbs bleed. Wyeth spied her, in her assumed solitude, through his upstairs window. I wonder which neighbors watch me, but no matter; this existence, whatever existence it is, is mine, not theirs, and finally, in the crabbed grass of my own yard, in full view of others who'll not ever understand, she flows into me, possessing me. I have found Christina.

Amanda Skjeveland's work has recently appeared in Eclipse, Flutter Poetry Journal, Burst, Literary Mama, The Write Room, and Tonopah Review. She lives with her husband and two little boys on the east coast, where she teaches English and edits the literary magazine at a community college.