Pillar of Salt

When a new man touches me, I become something else. Sometimes I become my sister, though I don't have a sister, anymore.

There I'll be, parked in the driveway of a certain house in a dark car on a full moon, something of his bordering on something of mine - divot between hip and belly, collarbone that refused to fuse post-accident - and if I'm my sister (and I usually am), I'll find the fleshy nub of his fingertip between my teeth, bitten. Sometimes it ends right there.

But unless it's his driveway, the certain driveway is my parents' driveway, and the gravel crunches below the tire as the car sways. A doctor prescribed parental supervision post-accident until the windshield and I sort ourselves out: I traveled through it, now it travels through me. Some mornings I'll wake to find a shard of sunlight falling across my chest and, glinting next to me, a piece of glass that loosed itself like a tooth. Mom says, "Put that under your pillow." "But it's the guest room pillow," I say.

Sometimes I become an orange, peeled from the waist up, round against two palms. Sometimes I'm a nesting doll, all hand-painted veneer, the real me five time inside.

Sometimes from the parking lot of the grocery store, I watch a bag boy corral silver carts like animals. Then he, or some other man, carts me someplace. These men are men of few syllables. Be sweet. Take care. We'll drive in fragmented silence. Then I'll say, "Pull over." He'll skid to a downhill slope of pines or patch of gravel at the edge of a cornfield. Then there on the ground I'll change from one thing to the next.

Like a pillar of salt.

Today the bag boy and I were unwedged, undressed, pinned by an empty sky. He said, "That blue is unconvincing." Then he rolled onto his elbows, pointed up the road.

A family sat in the median grass, the trinity of mother, father, kid. They'd spread a blanket, basketless, near an assemblage of plastic flowers. I saw a white cross staked behind them. I put my shirt back on.

The girl walked toward me, dress hem flapping around her knees. Her face looked like mine, but not enough to be mine. The bag boy put his hand on my back. Now I became a pile of salt. Anything could blow me away: how familiar her walk. How delicate the light on her pale, unspoiled hands.

About the author:

Ashley Farmer writes and teaches in Syracuse, NY. Recent work can be found in DIAGRAM, Juked, elimae, Faultline and elsewhere.