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©2018 Barren Magazine. An Alt.Lit Introspective.

At the Hair Salon


by Chanel Brenner

A boy slumps sideways
in a wheelchair,
a breathing tube
attached to his mouth
like an umbilical cord.

Riley could have been him
if he had lived.

The boy wears grey socks
with rockets blasting off
that Riley would have liked.
His nurse assures,
Your mama be right back, mi amor.
She adjusts his body and head
to make him straighter.

He has the same look
Riley had, after blood leaked
into his brain,
from the defective vessel—
a short-circuited robot,
a zombie, a ghost.

I want to ask what it’s like
to lose a child only partially,
to live with his spirit trapped
deep in his body—
a wheeling billboard for tragedy.

I only had a glimpse,
the night Riley died.

I confess,
I wanted him whole
or not at all.

I watch his mother
read People Magazine.
while the stylist

smooths her hair,
with a flat iron.

Header photograph © Asher.

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