tried to draw lungs but they collapsed
after lyn hejinian
An essay by Raphaela Posner
I painted the same flowers. We had wandered through the wetlands searching for names that would “fit us,” hoping there was something beyond those we already had. Sometimes I let my face go limp with thought. We drew in deep breaths of summer air left soggy from the rain. I got blood drawn three times in three days, my arm resembling that of someone who had found something they couldn’t quit. I tried to let you walk away. My family and I each have a set of the same watercolors that we bought on sale at Meininger’s when the rain made it hard to enjoy the pool. I took a shower outside and wished that you could be there to watch as I jumped at the spiders. We learned science together. Some of the time I think you loved me but most of the time I think you had never spent time with a girl before and that was weird because you aren’t anti-social. I tried to draw lungs with my brush but they collapsed with each stroke. I opened a map on my phone in the car, unfamiliar with the feeling of needing directions. You were searching for words that didn’t work without their prefix attached. The flowers didn’t look like any I’d seen before, nothing I could identify in a book of plants. I planned out a weekend we’d never go on in my head, complete with mountain town bed and breakfasts and a covered wagon that had been converted into a room nestled next to the hot springs. You went to yoga and tried to learn how to bend your knees and breathe in a relaxing way while I tried not to laugh. I thought of the way your eyes wrinkled when I told you I was scared of something crawling upon my skin. You wore purple shirts painted with dinosaurs and I tried to capture you in the paint but I never was able to articulate you in the way you did words. I breathed in the scent of flowers and someone I’d never know.
Raphaela Posner is a junior at Brown University, where she studies English with a focus on nonfiction writing. She is also interested in exploring the world of medical humanities and is a part of Brown's Program in Liberal Medical Education. Her work has appeared in The College Hill Independent, Blueshift Journal, Catalyst Journal, and a self-published chapbook. Raphaela is from Denver, Colorado and is very fond of the Queen City of the Plains.