I watched the seamstress keep a stoic face as the needle guided tar-black lines out of her skin, stitching a heart. I imagine myself as tattoo artist, mutilating the softness of her body and making dashes around an empty space on her chest. I invent myself in memory, launching harpoons at the unattainable. She wears the tattoo on her breast plate but the thread is tangled around my finger like a forget-me-knot. The line is looped around splintering bone and the sweep of thread tickles the porous ends of marrow like a phantom limb.

A clean void paints a silhouette where your dresser was

Sinking into the sand carpet, I think of the paint on your jeans and markers without caps. I think of when you would pirouette down the hall, your arms up to hug the ghost that led you – heel toe spin again and again until you spilled your high, stumbling with a smile. The moment I saw the boxes I became the candle wax on the television, the cat piss snuggled on your pillow, the mold in our coffee pot. I became the starved python that stunk for a week – until you noticed the trash and scattered ashes, loose threads etched in the floor. A clean void paints a silhouette where your dresser was and I can taste the antique grime that caked its mirror.



Charlene Ashley Taylor earned a BA in English with a Minor in Linguistics from the University of Louisville. She’s a former editor of The White Squirrel and mentor for the Sarabande Writing Labs. Her work has appeared in Limestone Journal, Coe Review, Transcendent Zero Press, The Bitter Oleander, The Chaffey Review, Yellow Chair Review, Spry Literary Journal, and others. She is currently a MA student in English at the University of Louisville, working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the University Writing Center and interns as a leading editor with Miracle Monocle.