Practicing in the Mirror

By Kate Ringer

Note: The following piece is a fictionalized account of real events.

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Behind the Counter

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[image source]

by Eryn Connery

You will leave with your empty cup

and I will immediately forget your face.

My barista smile isn’t an invitation,

the tilt of my head and my

high-pitched voice mean I’m trying to upsell you.

I’m here for my company,

for my boss, for my paycheck,

not for you.

So, you got a boyfriend?

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Daddy’s .357

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By Joshua Bondurant 

The back door skidded along the compacted ice and snow that stuck to the metal trim as he pushed. His warm hillside home began to thaw Jim’s frozen bristles as he wiped the cold off his beard. His wife—retired much earlier than Jim would’ve thought — scrubbed the cake pan in the sink. Being gone all morning wasn’t long enough to get a welcome home smile these days, not after so many years of mundane repetition. His son—thirteen years old now—was glued, as he always was, to the computer. He was playing some raucous and blood-soaked video game filled with dragons and swords. His daughter, nine years old today, stood to attention. She stood bundled up and ready to leave at a drop of a hat. She always had a smile for him, especially for today.

“Ready, Daddy?” Fevered excitement stretched her vowels. Jim forced a smile, but sighed, “Let’s go.” His unenthusiastic response would have won an angry scowl from his wife had she been paying attention. But she was busy, she always was, busier than Jim ever wanted her to be. He glanced once more to his son down the hall while shaking his head, he gave his daughter’s hand a little squeeze and she galloped merrily alongside her father out toward the sputtering pick-up.

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This Body

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By Ashley Centers

You say
This body is a temple
And to treat it well
Because this life
It’s the only one we’ve got
But baby’s fat bracelets
And thunder thighs
Never melted away
When she started walking.
And I’ve stopped wishing
For these heavy legs
To work like they should.

You’d remind me that real
Movement happens within
And to not be in such a hurry
Because maybe there’s a reason
This body is broken. My blue mind
Sometimes forgets that karma
Takes time to work itself out.
I just can’t see how
I’m supposed to love something
That has never been the source
Of anything good in my life.

Afraid of Me

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By Jessy Forsmo-Shadid

Can I finally rest? And say that
the test, for now, has ended?
That I can breathe, reflect, be at ease.
Now every tease can cease to exist
in the mist of my today, tomorrow, and hopefully,
hopefully the next day.
“
Please, I pray, I promise to pay attention to
me and not he. I’ll give myself what I need
and sow the seed to grow a better me.”
But broken mirrors, a bent heart, a body
built for no one, beats the brave,
the beautiful, the bottom of who I am.
Me! God, please let me free and give me
courage to see what I have been so blind to notice.
Remind me that my skin is not inferior,
that no one is superior, and that I can be
proud to be where and who I am. Tell me that I’m more
than my chest, my breasts, the shell of my past,
present, and future. Say the things that should be taught
to children, fought by teens, and brought up by
everyone else. Shout from the depths of your soul,
“
Love is important! And so are you.”
Because the girl with cuts, the guy with slits, and people
that seem to miss the point to not be like the him or her
in magazines built with fantasies, live on those words.
Do not whisper and hope to catch ear that’ll hear
and forget the fear of non-perfection. Let it be known
that they are not alone. Let it be heard that love
starts with themselves. You. Only you,
live with yourself for the rest of your life.
Be strong enough to say, I love myself today.