If I were a man, I would have already taken you. At the first sign of your kindness – the first time you smiled at me on a lark – I would have walked right up to you because I wanted to and laid my hands bare across your arms. But I was raised a lady, told at eight about the blackheads on my nose, at twelve about the particular wideness of my hips. In elementary school, they weighed me in a line and marked me red. I learned instead to swim, to view water and the men who loved me as exception. As an adult, I've tattooed my skin as apology: here is art, it says, I'm sorry you must look at my body.
I don’t know what home is - a house that doesn’t spread between coasts, a board game without missing pieces, a dog that grows old in one place? I keep sifting through the memories - the slog of the pacific, the white sand of the gulf - but what is home if you have to remake it? At 40, my father pierced his belly button in the kitchen. At 30, my mother proclaimed she was a mermaid stranded on land. I am waiting for my gills to sprout, for this skin to slough off like a snake’s, but I once killed a cactus in its natural habitat - I keep finding myself stuck in the desert searching for sea.
Emily Lake Hansen is the author of the chapbook The Way the Body Had to Travel (dancing girl press, 2014). Her poetry has appeared in Atticus Review, Stirring: A Literary Collection, and Dressing Room Poetry Journal among others. She received her MFA from Georgia College and currently writes, teaches, and plays too many children's board games in Atlanta.