C Y N T H I A   A T K I N S

Cynthia Atkins is the author of two collections, most recently, "In The Event of Full Disclosure" (CW Books 2013).
Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Cultural Weekly,
Del Sol Review, Florida Review, Le Zaporoque, North American Review, Tampa Review, Toronto Quarterly
, and 
Verse Daily, among others. She currently is an assistant professor of English at Virginia Western Community College 
and lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, VA with her family.  Visit her at : www.cynthiaatkins.com

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L


M I R R O R , M I R R O R

                            "I am a collection of dismantled almosts."-Anne Sexton

There is a parcel of land where everything is true 
in reverse. Ribbon-cutting ceremony into the Mayor's

grave plot, where Nana Ida is a shopper putting on her lipstick, 
shade 53, Maui in the Moonlight-setting sail after the war

of ideas
. We're all headed for nasty weather, or its opposite
like breakfast for dinner. I found a lone diner just off 

the grid. In a plate I saw myself, I saw my mother back home, 
tweezing her eye-brows-Nylons behind her drying

into leaves, or grief itself. My cracked lips homesick for a smile 
and a familiar meal. The waitress has a run in her stockings, 

like confidence in reverse, as when Gus the bartender
at the Ramada Inn held my arms behind my back 

and touched my 16 yr. old breasts. I felt my pimples stir
into a hurricane in the town square--That mayor selling

raffle tickets to the thinnest skin of dignity. The tip jar
wrestled to the floor. With two birds perched, my mom 

pulled the tiniest stubborn hairs, as if twigs exhumed from 
her brow—Hard triumphs of pain, held under the light. 

I hear Nana Ida's worry lines in my ears. I am my mother pulling
out branches, the whole family tree. My face is the universe breaking 

off the smallest possibilities— with each shard of self.