poltergeist ii by Candice Wuehle

We met as i was climbing out of the mirror. Because you thought i was a glitch in your own reflection it was easy to convince you to let me live inside you. i thought it was sort of funny that the newspapers would call my ascension a suicide, that they would never notice i was a cult. vince, I’m telling you this as though you don’t know it all already because it hasn’t happened yet. Starting at the end is my favorite argument. Like walking through a door backwards, like we’re already unhinged.

Anyway, you put your hands flat on the card table and i used a hot needle to prick the letters of my name into your knuckles. f r a n c e s c a. There was a single space left because i always want to let you change a small part of your mind about the whole thing; so you can still swing hard and some of it will be your own. i learned how to do this in fashion school, which should seem true because this is where we are now. Which should seem true because fashion is the school of empty space; the school where we met on the third floor filled with dressmaker’s dummies. i knew i’d meet someone who believes in mirrors here, who has also spent some time thinking about the best way to craft a body out of other people’s bodies to patent a proof on water and geometry and other unshapable relationships. See, what i really need you to do, vince, is not to avenge me, but to let me slip into you so i can avenge myself. We both know how to make a pattern.

(In the end, i am going to turn you into a telephone and swallow you whole. i’m going to take a photo of the spiral cord coming out of my mouth and everyone is going to think you are the ghost, everyone is going to remember you as already gone. There will be no puncture, you will be all puncture: this happened on the underground.)

francesca on your hands: i refuse the petty contours of memoir, but i have to admit to this event that occurred on the underground. After it happened, i started curling my body around other curling things, my fingertips became a transom, i believed in the power of gauze and i saw that if i were an a ng el the event would have passed right through me, vince, see, he could not have sent a message through a messenger already carrying the message because his grey hands would have slipped through me; i would have haunted the pervert instead of the pervert haunting me and i would not have needed to keep telling myself the story of my future levitation so m any ti m es in a r ow. Blurred lens, vaselined eye.

The mirror introduced himself as the body inside the trench coat. The mirror tried to make himself real by stepping towards francesca’s body and her mouth. When the mirror tried to touch francesca, she learned her body and the mirror’s bodies were both shells, but she knew what was inside her: she knew how to show other people with fashion. She could use her exposed belly as an argument and not a threat. Threatened, francesca carved her name on vince’s hand so I would have a hand to break the mirror’s shell.

i mean, I’m always francesca: i mean, i couldn’t prove anything. i mean, i believe vengeance is a ballad that you put into someone else’s head. i mean my cult wears ill-fitting drapes so you never know where the ringing is coming from, so the mirror won’t know what it’s reflecting when it gets smudged, when f r a n c e s c a is imprinted in vince’s blood.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 12.11.36 PMCANDICE WUEHLE is the author of the full-length collection, BOUND (Inside the Castle, 2018) and the chapbooks VIBE CHECK (Garden Door Press, 2017), curse words: a guide in 19 steps for aspiring transmographs (Dancing Girl Press, 2014) and EARTH*AIR*FIRE*WATER*ÆTHER (Grey Books Press, 2015). Her most recent work can be found in Mississippi ReviewNew Delta Review, Bennington Review, and DREGINALD. She is originally from Iowa City, Iowa and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Candice currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas where she is a Chancellor’s Fellow at The University of Kansas. Find her at candicewuehle.com.