(not quite) a literary journal


Things Leftover from When I Was Ugly, by Elizabeth Austin

Stretch marks. Blackheads across the bridge 
of my nose. Scars on my chin from picking, picking, 
picking at dry disks of scab. Rough dark patches 
on the insides of my thighs where they’ve been rubbing 
all my life. Rolls on my stomach, rolls in the bone-colored skin 
of my upper arms marked with red lines. 
So much of my body touches parts of itself 
that it shouldn’t. I’m doubled-over in bulges and folds, 
lined like striped bass, fleshy and revolting. 
Stretch marks, shiny and striated. Bruises like ghosts 
where my mother used to pinch my stomach 
in the bathtub when I was six, telling me 
there’s no such thing as a fat ballerina 
and when I stuffed my leotard and tulle into the back
of my closet she found it and tried to get me to dress up 
for family who had come over. I stood 
in the middle of the room feeling my body puddle 
like urine on a carpet. Oversized front teeth. 
An overbite. Swollen gums, 
shiny and taut from years of infection 
when it was too much to take care of myself. 
Towels over the mirrors most days.
When I was seven I daydreamed about taking a knife
and slicing through the fat of my arms and stomach, 
shearing it away in slabs, watching it run 
in thick yellow globs, stitching the undersides 
with black thread like wires. I still imagine it 
in the shower when my stomach touches my thighs 
as I bend over to shave my right calf. 

Tip Jar

Elizabeth Austin is a poet, photographer, and visual artist. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in the Schuylkill Valley Journal, See Spot Run, Foliate Oak, Driftwood Press, and Anti-Heroin Chic, and is forthcoming in 3Elements Review. She currently lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania with her two children.