The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Content warning for domestic violence/abuse and disordered eating

Flashback: Bedroom

Blame the walls and doors—they entice
the husband to punch them—
five stitches on his right wrist

just last summer. Inanimate objects
only—he says he is a man of peace.
His familiar rage—it doesn’t cease

with three days in a row of humid heat,
ninety degrees, and how come Janey
wasn’t in her room in Taos after the shoot?

Like an asymptote, she’s gotten so close
to perfection, can taste how close,
like she tastes the black coffee, water,

sugarless gum, all she’s had for days,
so tired of being shown off
like an expensive watch.

Her precision surgery on her food—
he critiques her microscopic cutting.
And how did her ass blow up overnight?

The mirror is relentless,
the water—she drinks too much of it,
needs to do more calisthenics, the weight

on the scale’s unchanging. The food
she pretends to eat—sometimes she has
to put a small bit in her mouth, exercise

the gain away, or purge, but anything
is better than throwing up again.
The rules for when he can look at her—only

when dressed or when the lights
are out—darkness and cover. Her ribs—
where downy, pale white fur has begun

to grow, though she is freezing all the time.
The room of ecru walls—the color
picked from over thirty variations of beige—

for weeks, samples were shuffled and placed
on their bed while she tried to decide.
His only comment: that nothing

was getting laid on their bed lately except
the paint swatches. Blame the husband—
he likes them thin and young.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

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