Sundress Reads: Review of Sisyphusina

Sisyphusina by Shira Dentz ([PANK] Books, 2020) spirals through several concentric circles in 96 pages, each rotation getting closer to the question of what happens when a woman is deemed no longer socially “useful.” Between the normal aging process, never marrying or having children, and not meeting standards of conventional attractiveness, layers of this normative deviation begin to stack. Troubling social acceptability involves stepping outside of our own personal boundaries into the realm of the new, watching the speaker (revealed to be Dentz herself) embrace her own features: “Even, straight, white teeth are a sign of class. Why do I cover my gray then? Is gray a different kind of mark? // Tiny white hairs on my chin, fish bones. Lined up in a row, like teeth” (61). Sisyphusina uses unique, intertwined forms—such as visual art, copier scans of hands, and a QR code that links to an instrumental composition—to try and answer the question of what happens when the world decides it is done with us. Ultimately, it arrives at the answer that there is no answer and the best we can do is carry on.

Sisyphusina’s engagement with form is the most immediately recognizable aspect of the text. Directly following the acknowledgements, Dentz writes a letter to her readers explaining that her formal decisions are guided by “consistency not in terms of uniformity, evenness, and constancy; but consistency in terms of texture.” (ix) Punctuation and stylistic conventions are subverted in order to engage a sense of volume and voice; text is placed around the page to emphasize the breath between them. After all, it is about the “relationship between plasticity and order, spurred by the muse/lyric impulse of what [Dentz] seeks to give expression;” that “form is sculptural.” (ix) This sculptural tendency is abundantly clear after the first poem, which begins with different fonts for the title and body but is otherwise relatively standard in form. However, the second poem ratchets in intensity—and it only increases from there. At this point, the words become stream-of-consciousness, large-blocked prose poems with shifting capitalization. In particular, the pronoun “I” is capitalized inconsistently in “Eva 1,” leading to textural lulls and a misplacement of subject, which becomes a common theme throughout the book.                              

Once a norm has been introduced—whether textual or metatextual—it dances, weaving and wavering around, becoming more visible and repeated within a few poems, before dipping away and then returning. This orbital dance helps to create the circular movement around Dentz’s commentary, particularly her integration of visual art and music into the book itself. Lines arrive around and within the poems by page 7, drawing the eye to what would otherwise be white space around explications and poems-within-poems, quickly becoming as much a part of the text as the words themselves by showing physical movement and the beginning of the collection’s elliptical movement. Pages 10 and 11 feature the same image of a photocopied left hand with two rings on the middle and ring finger; the first iteration is the hand alone but the second is accompanied by a poem titled “copy.” The poetry and images work together to create textures and repetition, imparting meaning through visceral feeling, much like abstract visual art, which makes particular sense when considering Dentz’s inclusions of lines, shapes, and visual art pieces within and around the writing—after all, what are words if not lines and shapes on a page? The poem “FLOUNDERS,” for example, dissects the same scene nine times in nine different ways using the same words, like kaleidoscopic blackout prose poetry that never touches color.

While the formal elements of Sisyphusina are one of its strongest suits, there are repeated images and concepts that circle around. The feeling of isolation permeates both the use of color—grays and greens in particular, referencing both age in terms of “graying hair” and “iridescent gray branches preserved”—and female hair, especially chin hair. The speaker plucks chin hair because she wants “skin soft and smooth so that when my imaginary lover touches it’s baby soft.” (4) There are dissertations referencing women’s relationships to facial hair, newspaper clippings about Ancient Egyptians’ relationships to hair (dying with henna, shaving it, braiding it) and how they considered hair “a supreme form of self-expression.” (13) Parallel on the page, the speaker lists every expression she can think of relating to hair: “isn’t there anything else on your mind besides food and hair?” she asks.

Aside from the introduction and firm separations from norms and what is considered “acceptable,” Dentz suggests a metadiscussion on writing and how form contributes to what is acceptable to say about writing as an art. After being told that people like to read about the body and finding that this was the case in the 1970s (and is a trend that has resurfaced and circled back in popularity): “I usually don’t include these kinds of sentences because it’s not good form to write about writing, except in metafiction. One’s supposed to act like the voice is disembodied. There is no author here. Thing is, no one will even know that these words exist except if they’re read. So why pretend someone isn’t reading (you) / writing this?” (24) These forms of standardization and silence—that writers aren’t supposed to discuss ourselves in our writing, even when the writing itself is intrinsically personal—parallel the collection’s exploration of women’s beauty standards. In order for either to be considered classically beautiful, it must appear as if the person behind it all does not exist.

With regards to both the death of the author and falling in line with social norms for the sake of doing so, Dentz poses the question: “why pretend someone isn’t right for the colors.” (21) The disruption of these classical beauty ideas and inherent “correctness” of art, as seen through the mediums of writing, visual art, composition, and the human body, lies at the heart of Sisyphusina. In compiling this multimedia and cross-genre collection, each genre’s work lies just a hair beyond what some may view as “correct” for the style (the audience in “Aging Music” may be aware of the score, and microphones may be placed near windows to pick up sounds of the natural environment, for example), but it remains art. The beauty of art is something intrinsic, beyond what is deemed socially acceptable as beautiful. Sisyphusina is a beautiful piece; it asks its audience to work for its meanings, parsing through pages of stream-of-consciousness writing and swirling images to reach its impressive, rich core. As the female version of Sisyphus, constantly rolling the boulder up the hill to no avail, Dentz creates a lush landscape in order to question the rules and roles of acceptable women, and implies women are art that may never be framed.

Sisyphusina is available at [PANK]

Lee Anderson is a nonbinary writer from the American -west with an MFA from Northern Arizona University. They have been published sporadically but with zest, appearing or forthcoming in places such as The Rumpus, Columbia Journal, and Unstamatic Magazine.

Sundress Reads: Review of Behind This Mirror

Fairy tales are ripe for adaptation, with their morals explicitly laid out and traditional character archetypes strong. Granted, not every fairy tale retelling captures the spirit of the original tale while troubling them, reshaping a known story into something wholly unique, but when they do, they stick around. A well-crafted fable retelling suggests these same morals extend into the present day like Behind This Mirror by Lena Bertone (Bull City Press, 2020) does, accomplishing this through its complex points of view, proclivity to the flash fiction form, and contemporary feminist lens.

Bertone gathers 22 pieces of flash and short fiction into 54 concise pages in Behind This Mirror. Almost all of these stories are one or two pages long; the longest (“Constants”) maxes out at nine pages long. Rather than following a traditional story arc or Freytag’s pyramid, Bertone uses the power of flash to offer an impactful glimpse rather than the full story. These differences from traditional forms continue into point of view, which is constantly shifting. Some stories are told in close first, others in distant third or omniscient, some narrators known and described, others never named. The unknowability of these narrators as we see glimpses into their lives adds to the inherent relatability at the core of these stories: a good fable, after all, portrays a moral lesson that anyone reading it can pick up, and the fluidity of narrators allows for greater opportunities for self-insertion.

Behind This Mirror slides easily into conversation with Angela Carter’s work, particularly her similar collection of short fairy tale retellings, The Bloody Chamber. Published in 1979, Carter relies on an image of femininity that goes directly against social prescriptions: women are not only strong and independent, saving themselves, they save each other through familial relationships, friendships, and literal acts of strength, such as in the titular story based on Perrault’s original Bluebeard myth, in which the protagonist is saved by her mother rather than her brothers. Almost all of Carter’s protagonists, whether they are good or morally gray, are women. Behind This Mirror’s protagonists are similarly female-dominated and portrayed as strong women, but are developed beyond Carter’s archetype disruptions: they have desires, feelings, and actions that go both with and against the social grain. Where Carter’s protagonists are sexual femme fatales, Bertone’s protagonists are often seen as unattractive by society but embrace the things that make them unique. Put simply, Behind This Mirror disrupts the idea that the archetype of a strong woman is one who is tough. Even when they are not brave or strong or able to stand up for themselves, or are, again, not physically attractive—such as in “Seven Sisters,” where each of the sisters’ major source of beauty is described in contrast to the stark ugliness of the rest of their bodies, like the sister Sesta whose “eyebrows take minimal grooming, and then they are like artwork on her otherwise hideous face” (15)—Bertone shows that these women have value not in spite of their unattractive features but by simply being alive.

The gender politics of this collection are nuanced and do their best to promote women’s empowerment but also show the disempowerment of individuals, particularly queer and transgender people, that comes frequently in romantic situations. In many traditional fairy tales, the story arc follows a heterosexual couple falling truly and deeply in love, and the story ends at the beginning of the romance, where “happily ever after” is not only achievable but the only answer. Each of the relationships in Behind This Mirror are either framed at the end of the relationship (such as in the opening story, “Stories for Next Time,” and “Self-Portrait”) or feature a non-romantic familial relationship (particularly between mothers and daughters, such as in “Patch” and “Missing”). There are a few sideways glances towards the idea of queer relationships or the existence of transgender individuals. However, this is primarily through threesomes to please a king-turned-husband and going to Thailand for “the operation [Rumpelstiltskin] was sure would make him the person he was meant to be” (10). Even in revisionist fairy tales where transformation is not uncommon and the socially unattractive embrace their features with compelling self-acceptance and love, traditional social norms still hold strong influence over what is and isn’t possible.

What Bertone does to disrupt the idea of falling in love being a linear path held forever, on the other hand, is strong. One of the best examples lies in two parallel stories: “The Woman Who Waxed and Waned” and “Exactly 69% of This Sad, True Story is True.” In the former, two childhood sweethearts marry and have a daughter but the wife falls ill, her husband leaves her, but she heals and they get back together to have a happy family. In the latter, it is the exact same text, but 30% of the ending has been crossed out: “But, instead of [her life] ending, years passed, and as they did, her gaunt cheeks began to fill again with flesh and fat, and sometimes, when she spoke, words came perfectly formed from her lips.” (35) The truth that comes from the 69% of the story that is supposedly true is that the happy ending isn’t actually achievable, despite what one may hope.

Behind This Mirror opens a brief window into what the gritty reality of fairy tales may look like in contemporary contexts with grace. It touches upon the grit and dust of our world delicately, leaving that space behind the magic mirror for us to explore.

Behind This Mirror is available at Bull City Press

Lee Anderson is a nonbinary writer from the American -west with an MFA from Northern Arizona University. They have been published sporadically but with zest, forthcoming or appearing in places such as The Rumpus, Columbia Journal, and Unstamatic Magazine.

Sundress Reads: Review of Greyhound

Greyhound by Aeon Ginsberg (Noemi Press, 2020) was recently nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Poetry, and from the poem’s first breaths it’s clear to see why. Walking in the footsteps of Nevada by Imogen Binnie and other self-exploration-beyond-transition transgender narratives, Greyhound follows its speaker through the bus system into somewhere new, a phenomenological reorientation where “me being a bitch is not a possibility / but a definitive fixed point.” (30)

Greyhound is, quite literally, an epic poem from the beginning of its semi-circular journey: while Ginsberg does not end up in the same place where they started, moving from the concrete notion of getting on a bus to an ending defined by its definitions of prisms, desire, and the self, they journey through the psyche and reorient themselves through new relationships to both animate and inanimate others. Much like the wheels of its titular Greyhound bus, the one poem that luxuriates through 63 pages cycles through and circles back to a few major thematic categories: travel, transition, platonic intimacy (with others and the self), dogs, and sustenance.

The cycle reveals itself through what could most aptly be called a wheel metaphor. No one concept is explored in its entirety before the poem glitters in a different direction, shifting fragments, yet no concept is fully dropped after it has been introduced. Like a spoke of a wheel, each of these major themes and concepts hold the poem together and are featured in succession: travel, and then animals, and then definitions, and then transition, and then intimacy, and then travel again. Nothing is left alone to rot.

One of the blurbs for Greyhound mentions the work’s similarity to Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology, going as far as to use Ahmed’s metaphor of a desk as a way of making orientation tangible. This relationship between Greyhound and Queer Phenomenology cannot be understated: “Even my prescriptions / have my name in parentheses. / This makes sense too—that my identity / is on the periphery of a perception of it.” (8). From the beginning of their poem, Ginsberg identifies this transient relationship to space that queerness both allows and requires and dances with it. Phenomenology, particularly the queer kind discussed by Ahmed and other scholars, relates to the physical location of and relationship to objects from one to another. Through their exploration of relationships, striving to find home, and renaming (one of the most fun parts of early transition, that rebranding of the self), Ginsberg uses phenomenology to lay the asphalt of the open road ahead of them. “Why do all the words relating to my body / have to do with movement?” they ask. “Passing privilege, / transitioning. One thing, and then another thing.” (13) This movement and the way that travel has infused the trans lexicon is cleaved open in one sharp stanza.              

But Ginsberg doesn’t stop there. Rather, this troubling of travel through language also clearly shows their love for the possibility that physical travel allows. “I tell another trans person / I feel most in my skin / in Greyhound bus terminals. / Neither of us talks / about what it means to only be seen in a liminal way— / to only be seen when we are in movement, between two points.” (19) Movement is not always beautiful, though, they remind us. “…the conversation must recognize / movement that happens without our urgency— / in fact, regardless of our urgency or agency. / The movement of militarization. / The movement of police. / The movement of borders. / The movement of bodies.” (55). Not all bodies are allowed to move in the ways they need to, and the recognitions of the world’s glittering nuance becomes a call to action. It takes a certain level of freedom to be able to live alongside the wild road as Ginsberg has— something they both recognize and willingly admit within the poem itself.

Alongside the strength and depth with which they tackle the complex ideas of bodily autonomy and power, among other concepts, in this poem, Ginsberg is also hilarious. Their dry, witty humor cracks through just about every line. “When I get a car,” they state, “I will never wear pants / again and no one can stop me.” (28) Their legs are “two kissing hairless cats,” they “have 20/20 Gender Vision.” At times, their humor is self-deprecating, but what trans person, who’s felt free under the weight of systemic oppression, isn’t? The humorous moments are extraordinarily dry, but linger nevertheless. It serves as not only a reminder of their humanity among the nebulosity they present themselves as, but as a source of strength and self-protection in the face of a world that continues to try and beat us down.

A Greyhound: the dog, the bus, the bus as related to dog, the dog as related to speaker, the speaker as related to bus. There is no singular subject in this long, complex, gorgeous poem; rather, every permutation of speaker and self works as a spoke in the wheel, pushing the poem ahead as it lays down the road it drives upon. I, for one, hope to be along for the ride, wherever Aeon Ginsberg is taking us.

Greyhound is available at Noemi Press

Lee Anderson is a nonbinary MFA candidate at Northern Arizona University, where they are the Managing Editor of Thin Air Magazine. They have been published sporadically but with zest, with work appearing or forthcoming in The Rumpus, Columbia Journal, and Unstamatic Magazine.

Meet Our New Intern: Lee Anderson

I was one of those children who believed deeply in spells they found on the Internet. If Yahoo Answers couldn’t tell me the exact words to whisper as I rolled around in the bathtub, trying desperately to melt my legs together into a mermaid tail, what was the point of having outside resources?

My belief in magic often rolled over into gullibility. I once melted the plastic shade off my magenta desk lamp because I’d taped some tissues that held “dragon eggs” (read: rocks out of the creek by my house) to the bottom in order to incubate them. They smelled like burnt cookies by the time my mom came to scold me for almost burning the house down, but all I had was guilt for killing the growing creatures. Fantasy gave me something to believe in when nothing else felt right. Of course, these hands-on attempts at manifestation were accompanied by both ravenous reading of literally every fantasy book the public library had and writing my own stories to add to the canon; I wrote my first novella the year prior, fifty-some pages of young-girl-becomes-a-mermaid-and-has-to-try-and-find-her-way-back-to-land as inspired by a particularly cool rock. In hindsight, I’m surprised I didn’t end up becoming a geologist.

When we think about our histories as readers, writers, editors, and lovers-of-literature, I think it’s easy to fall back on these narratives of always loving books, of fumbling around to try and find that exact moment that everything clicked and knowing that this is what we were meant to do. Personally, I find just as much value in looking at who I was in the absence of literature. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, one organic chemistry course away from a degree in Neuroscience, because I was so determined in college to try and connect with people. If we cannot understand who we are from the outside, how are we to know who we are internally? My life forms concentric circles around humanity, whether I am trying to escape it via mermaid-inoculation spells (which I now recognize as feeble attempts at quieting early gender dysphoria) or to focus in on it by watching the bouncing lines of an EEG scan in a silent basement lab on a deep winter evening.

In the past two years, I’ve circled back and finally started taking myself and my writing seriously. I have learned how to love a sentence and how to share myself in slivers. Finally, I feel as though I am ready to take on the precarious, privileged position of helping authors with Sundress Publications do the same. I hope to understand a little bit more about us all, and to help the world do the same.

Lee Anderson is a nonbinary MFA student at Northern Arizona University, where they are the Managing Editor of Thin Air Magazine. They have been published sporadically but with zest, with work appearing or forthcoming in The Rumpus, Columbia Journal, and Back Patio Press.

Project Bookshelf: Lee Anderson

I once organized my aunt’s library room by color when I helped her move, sweeping ROY G BIV around black shelves and bubble-wrapped packages I was expressly warned not to touch, much to her irritation. I was young, so I didn’t quite understand how or why that might be annoying, but now that I have bookshelves of my own to place, it makes more sense. I have three wide rows of a living-room-turned-office bookshelf that I share with my girlfriend sorted by genre: notebook, cookbook, scientific nonfiction, creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. In a perfect world, each genre would be organized by the author’s last name, but I once forgot how many letters are in the alphabet while I was teaching, so that dream hasn’t been realized just yet. For the most part, this system works. I do love that most of the books I’ve found and adore have brightly-colored covers. They are little gems, bright pops of jewel tones nestled together like the world’s best literary supermarket.

Most of my favorite fiction novels have been passed down to my youngest sister, a bookworm after my own heart, but I’ve kept a few close to me—a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s best gifted to me by my childhood best friend, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz—and am regrowing my collection as I stumble upon more. I’m always trying to find and read more creative nonfiction, and gems like Sarah Minor’s Bright Archives that play with form are what keep me going as I test out my own form-based experiments in essays. My sort-by-genre system has been falling apart the more I learn about and invest in non-traditional literature, however. Where does a hybrid chapbook go? What about an essay collection that braids pedagogy with real science? If it exists outside of formal constraints, does it have a home? I don’t have a solution for this yet, as silly as that sounds. I’ve been trying to make gradients between genres, like one big loop, where teal fits between green and blue, and it’s both working and not.

To the right of my desk, opposite the big bookshelf, are two floating shelves. My “academic bookshelf” lives on the bottom. This is where I keep books that I’m actively reading (Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Lavery) that aren’t on my bedside table (currently The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang), composition and rhetoric books I’m teaching, and books that I need for my own MFA classes. Right now, most of these books are for my thesis—Queer Phenomenology, Pale Blue Dot, Assuming a Body, and more—whether I am drawing inspiration from their form, style, or simply trying to wrap my head around the theory. The “dog” plant pot and tiny hand are for keeping the books upright and me smiling, a simultaneous bookend and serotonin slot machine. The shelf above keeps my mug collection in one place, because what is an office corner if not also a coffee station? I use my mugs as decor, in teaching my freshmen about twisting genre and tone, and for their standard purpose as drink vessels. If I think about it hard enough, they become part of my bookshelf gradient, tying the corners together by wrapping up all of my loose ends.

I keep two books on my desk with my darling marble queen pothos, color-coordinated calendar, and peach rings always in reach. Despite not being a poet, the beauty of poetry is so concentrated that it is my favorite way to re-inspire myself. Mary Oliver is one of my all-time favorites, and her anthology Devotions has enough familiar and new material that opening to a random page, reading the poem(s), and sitting with the images for a few moments is enough fuel to keep me going on long nights. I’ve done this recently with torrin a. greathouse’s new release Wound from the Mouth of a Wound and Clementine von Radic’s Mouthful of Forevers, too.

If poetry can’t save my writing brain when the wiring is faulty, though, my tarot cards can. I have a deck themed after the 2013 movie Pacific Rim, each card painted by a different artist, and take a moment, shuffling them through my hands, staring up at my big bookshelf until it feels right. I draw a card, read the interpretation from Michelle Tea’s fantastic Modern Tarot, and watch how adjusting the placement of my perspective gives me the opportunity to try again.

Lee Anderson is a nonbinary MFA student at Northern Arizona University, where they are the managing editor of Thin Air Magazine. They have been published sporadically but with zest, with work appearing or forthcoming in The RumpusColumbia Journal, and Back Patio Press.

Sundress Reads: Review of That Ex

The title is set in Visby, but I think it is more apt to fondly call it an Avril Lavigne font. The cover of That Ex by Rachelle Toarmino (Big Lucks, 2020) immediately sets a loud, confident, unapologetically femme tone that I cannot disengage from. Toarmino masterfully layers dozens of clever, understated cultural references to create a cohesive and fun portrait of the life of a 20-something in 2020s America. That Ex, Toarmino explains, is titled as such because every man has a story about a “crazy ex” who, more likely than not, was human, and her poems reflect the human intimacy of sincere self-confidence others may look down upon. Toarmino­­­­’s engagement with form helps the book embody a wholly contemporary experience, immersing her audience in the emotional weight of finding love, family, and yourself while being bombarded by phone notifications and the plight of social media.

Toarmino, Editor-in-Chief of Peach Magazine, swiftly summarizes this experience in 103 weighty pages of poetry. While the collection moves quickly, themes and emotions building between pages, each poem is worth sitting with individually. Holistically, this book reads like tending to a plant stretching up under the neon purple of a grow light—something tender, assisting natural growth and life through artificial means to supplement that which we cannot get otherwise. Individual poems read like lip gloss shimmer catching the light from below in a bar; the light that cracks through pre-installed starter apartment curtain blinds; streetlights smearing onto the wet pavement of an empty parking lot at night. Lines become enjambed and run over each other, interrupting one thought with another, fast callbacks and callouts and calls for attention to the minutiae of daily turmoil. And it is beautiful.

With references from Anne Carson to the Twitter account @SheRatesDogs (which posts anonymous screencaps of male entitlement, often in dating app screenshots or private messages on social media), from Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple’s color privatization disputes to Marie Kondo’s concept of items sparking joy, Toarmino captures the whirlwind of constant cultural references that comes with living in the digital age. These references come in quick succession, and the reader is expected to keep up. Both of the above sets of references occur within the same line, rocketing us back and forth between flickers of the cultural imagination. Toarmino’s spry connections are not just for immersion, but to lend an anchor point for empathy: understanding the subversions, inversions, and thick vacillations between optimism and pessimism about the situations at hand often feels like staring at someone else’s life through a thick pane of glass. In “People You May Know,” the speaker calls interpersonal interactions “looking at each other / through the wrong end / of binoculars” and comments that “it is so gaudy / and gruesome.” Toarmino is right, and That Ex consolidates this experience, tracing the move from putting yourself together to falling back apart to putting yourself back together but for real this time, I promise.

That Ex uses physical forms, in all its shifts and breaks and shapes, to its advantage throughout the book. For example, “If You Love Attention Make Some Noise,” is composed only of one phrase—“I am easy to love,”—that is repeated 104 times. The final line cuts off the phrase partway through: “I am easy.” The repetition creates a perfect block of text, a rectangle easy enough to skim through like a mantra you have to tell yourself even when you don’t believe it, followed by an interjection, or perhaps an intrusion, of what you really do believe, or what others tell you that you should believe.  

“I Said Okay” is the first of two poems where single lines and stanzas stand on their own, spread across eighteen pages, a handful of words and images swimming in blank space. The last image, “okay / I said okay / I will Okay” uses capitalization for emphasis, as though we’re hearing one side of a phone conversation with a disgruntled mother. These fragments feel like reading texts pop up on someone else’s phone screen—stripped of context, yet deeply intimate and emotional. You cannot know what that context is without intruding, and Toarmino doesn’t shy away from the bombardment and interference that has become a cornerstone of young contemporary lives. Other shapes, literal images of a ravioli food truck or a computer mouse bringing the speaker’s body to the trash described as bracketed asides in “Week of Waking Thoughts No. 2” or the lightning-bolt zig-zag of alternatingly off-centered lines in “You Up?”, are emotional touchstones without ever feeling self-serving or self-sacrificing. In particular, “[visual of mouse cursor dragging my body to Trash] / mark yourself safe” from “You Up?” highlights the speaker’s feelings of catastrophe by moving herself to the electronic disposal system and, in the very next line, clarifying that she is okay by means of Facebook’s algorithm for updating family and friends after a disaster.  

“there is the first moment / when you realize // that someday you will know this person / very intimately // but it will feel like / returning to something.” That Ex brought me back to shuffling through profiles on Tinder, keeping my fingers crossed for the prospect of finding someone worth my love, and trying to convince myself that I was just as worthy of it as others. Its lyric stirrings brought that purple light overhead, returning me to an intimate corner of myself I’d nearly forgotten about, but never truly could.

That Ex is available at Big Lucks

Lee Anderson is a nonbinary MFA student at Northern Arizona University, where they are the Managing Editor of Thin Air Magazine. They have been published sporadically but with zest, with work appearing or forthcoming in The RumpusColumbia Journal, and Back Patio Press.