Today Leigh Chadwick’s horoscope is the memory of the night at the bar, the humidity from an open window in the women’s bathroom and her back pressed against the wall as a boy crawls through her, planting tulips in her spine, whispering every word that rhymes with mellifluous in her ear as his fingertips—calloused, swollen—trace the rhythm of the sea down her chest, and then she’s outside, standing in the middle of the gin-soaked parking lot, her head between her knees and her lungs scraping the enamel off her teeth as the crisp sheet of night covers whatever the boy next to her is about to say.
Leigh Chadwick goes into the bathroom, turns off all the lights and spins around three times while chanting, Leigh Chadwick, Leigh Chadwick, Leigh Chadwick. When she turns the lights back on a poem has appeared on the bathroom mirror. It is a good poem. Leigh Chadwick types the poem into the Notes App on her iPhone. She titles the poem, “Craft Essay,” and submits it to the Paris Review. She sits on the toilet and doom-scrolls through Twitter as she waits 376 days for a form rejection.
Leigh Chadwick scribbles an analogy on her bathroom wall: Dolly Parton is to Mother Theresa as orgasms are to _______ (think, never meeting a gun in aisle three at Kroger; think, the lump in the throat of your third lover). Leigh Chadwick closes her eyes and slides her tongue across the back of her teeth as she repeats her four favorite emotions over and over in her head: cactus, having sex with men shaped like men, marigold, the one Liz Phair album that doesn’t suck. She hoards any hope for eternity. She keeps her regret in the cupboard. She spends the seventeen minutes before dusk cutting her emotions in half. The next morning she sets up a booth at the farmer’s market off Kingston Boulevard, where she sells them for a pantry full of kites, a flirt of wind, a box of dust.