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1.

You need to go into the wilderness, but there’s no one to take you.
There are women living under your bed,
in the refrigerator,
on every tree branch
on your way to work.

Their eyes are all different—
angry, hopeful, surprised, afraid—
but their hands are all the same. Cold,
bloodless, pulling your lids
up when you're falling
asleep. Watching you brush
your teeth in the mirror, hiding
your good underwear in the back
of the drawer, forcing you to reach
down. Some days you roll your eyes
at them. Petty, like children.

2.

Sometimes you're in Pilates class or
having lunch with a friend when the
women take over. Suddenly you're
listening to celebrity gossip in the voice
of someone whose throat was burned
by poison, whose vocal cords were
cut, or damaged by drowning, or
hanging, who bit their own
tongue out while being
raped. You know it's a
momentary distraction.
The women are only
amusing themselves.
You just have to grit
your teeth and nod and
endure.

3.

You need someone to take you
into the wilderness. But who?

In the absence of houses, bricks, knives,
people, they say there is
silence.

They say in the forest you’ll wake up hungry,
and freezing, and
free.

The women can't follow where there are no televisions,
no Twitter, no Facebook, no viral videos, no
history books.

4.

You need to go to the wilderness, but
how will you get there?

The way is filled with toll roads and a hunk
of brass to wear like a bracelet, like a
weapon, is all your salary will buy.

Luxury can be measured in seconds, in
breaths of fresh air. In the absence of
ghosts, fingernails, full of dirt and splinters,
dipping into your liquid lipstick, smearing
pale red across the sink.

5.

The wilderness calls to you and you
cry, in the aisle at the supermarket, as one
of the dead women puts your
favorite cereal into
your cart.

Rest is reserved for the wicked. The truth
doesn't comfort you, but makes the
night sky, the quiet, your hollow bed, more
precious.

6.

You draw a picture of the wilderness.

You buy nail polish and donuts.
You take a spin class.
You watch YouTube.

The women, in ever greater numbers, barge into your apartment. They sit with you, watching TV, eating popcorn.

You live.



Marina Berlin grew up speaking three languages in a coastal city far, far away. She’s an author of short stories who’s currently working on her first novel. You can follow her exploits on Twitter @berlin_marina or read more about her work at marinaberlin.org.
Current Issue
28 Nov 2022

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