Nicole Stellon O'Donnell

Broken Arm

The teacher, all owly glasses and corduroy skirt, watches you stick a pencil in your cast, pull it out and smell it as you wonder at the minutes on the clock and when your mother will pick you up, cocoon you in the cigarette smoke of the Camaro. You wait for the moment in the beige office with a blade that cuts plaster but can’t cut skin. How can it be sharp and not sharp? you wonder. No more plastic bags. No more rubber bands. All you want to know is that knife.

A Reply to the Obtrusive Narrator

Yesterday, I left a marginalia of fingerprints rendered in grease. Consider them a whorled map of my heart, for I was so drawn up in your character’s shame that I lost track of the crumpled napkin on my lap. Let’s, for a moment, imagine that we’re at the dinner party on page three hundred and twelve, and that I have raised my hand to my lips to be sure that no one overhears my earnest confession. After I speak, I’ll smile and look down, wringing the fine linen napkin in my lap. Forgive my intrusion. Take my confidence for what it is, reaching, pregnant with longing.

Author Portrait

Nicole Stellon O'Donnell is the author of Steam Laundry. She has received fellowships from the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, ZYZZYVA, Brevity, Passages North, and other journals. During the winter of 2016, she traveled to India on a Fulbright to research poetry instruction in Indian schools. She teaches incarcerated teenagers in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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