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Things We Leave Behind

1. A Toothbrush

      Our borrowed American optimism leaves us dizzy,
      eyes rolling in the back of our heads, aching
      like throbbing hearts, decaying ruins, ground-down teeth.

2. A Child’s Shoe

      We rearrange birthmarks, tracing routes across each other’s back,
      mapping out the way to Chicago, home to no one,
      where the cold will peel back our skin like an onion,
      wounds exposed.

3. A Guitar Pick

      Fragments of song linger in the still air.
      The tinny echoes of forgotten strings drift,
      abandoned between worlds, turning back to earth
      only to sigh in disappointment.

4. A Broken Watch

      In the sky, colors crack, splintering
      into firewood to be collected and saved for a long winter evening.
      But those nights drowning in grays and blues are far away from this place
      where time is alien.

5. A Passport

      The desert expands like our regret. Shadeless,
      it succumbs to the persistent thirst of unmarked graves,
      swallowing all prayers.
      But the barren land lies–
      for we are not alone out here.

6. A Nail Clipper

      Silence weighs on our backs, hunched, hands
      spilling forward, ready to break the fall,
      ready to break.

7. A Juice Carton

      Spit drips from licked wounds.
      Though the scars are barely visible, they are deep enough
      to feel when she outlines them with the tips of her fingers.

8. A Tube of Hair Gel

      Dawn yawns languidly, stinging like scorched skin.
      Dirt rises like an apparition, coating our bodies, clinging to sweat.
      We are half human half earth, but the desert reminds us that
      we do not belong here.

9. 16 GB Flash Drive

      At night, venomous tears leave us convulsing,
      talking to memories of people. People we once knew
      who undertook this same journey years ago.

10. A Used Sanitary Napkin

      This is the country where the moon foams, spilling
      onto the cracked elephant-skin earth, and wild dogs appear
      like angels drooling ivory.
      They bark hymns that recede into the night,
      verses and stories that can never be captured
      with words.

Gisella Faggi has had short fiction published in several magazines, including Emerge Literary Journal, Gray Sparrow Journal, and The Sand Hill Review. She calls Philadelphia, Rome, and Chicago home.