Object Permanence

by  Amanda Pendley

it was poetic justice maybe
when two days earlier, the three of us stood
squished and stepping on feet
in front of the dull dorm bathroom mirror
for a friend’s photography project
we were told to act natural as we
pretended to examine our skin for blackheads
and check our teeth for spinach
and reach behind our ears in search of loose quarters
and do all of the things that you want to convince
other people you do in front of the mirror instead
of the things you actually do
like space out for three minutes with a face mask
half plastered on your right cheek
red and swollen from where you smacked it on the
frame of your bed hours earlier
before you slowly return to the current time zone
speed up interdimensional traffic
to be disappointed that you are not an
Instagram model sponsored by reformation

or how you just can’t seem to pluck your eyebrows
in the right places or how you’ve anxiously
pulled half of your eyelashes out and see the little
beads underneath and remember when a classmate
told you in elementary school that the little brown dots
on your lash line were spider eggs laid while you were
sleeping
and you think that maybe this is why it is so hard for you
to open your eyes in the mornings to
see yourself clearly through all of that
web ridden mess and molten mascara and blank spaces
dripping and missing
the way you feel when you return from the rain
fresh out of missing girl posters
after your daily search for yourself in the future

my friends went away for the weekend
not knowing it would be the weekend I would
ban myself from acknowledging my own existence
but they reminded me that I have to learn to
care for myself in order to survive

I came back to my room and forgot that I had
turned all of the mirrors around
put a denim jacket over the one above the sink
and when I looked out of habit
found that I could only see the faint outlines of
my collarbones underneath the cocoon of sweatshirts
that I had asked pretty please to
swallow me whole
I was a headless horseman
a drawing of a girl with a box television set for a skull
someone who had forgotten that the meaning of her name
was “much loved”
someone who’d forgotten what the word “love” meant
someone who’d forgotten her own name
and reverted back to object permanence
to hide from the hauntings waiting behind
the bedroom door in a children’s Halloween film
self-prescribed escapism from my issues
dug out of my pocket the muddled-up tissues
and dabbed them under my eyes that I only assumed
were there based on my memory of human anatomy

out of sight out of mind
fears that someone would tell me sometimes
they forget I exist
not caring about someone unless they are
standing right in front of you
not caring about myself until
I am exposed to my true colors
the light from the window makes my pupils
dilate and acknowledge that I am more than a plant
that needs sunlight to survive
I need oxygen
mobility
id, ego, superego
common sense
common cents
loose quarters found behind ears to
remind me that I am worth something
more than an amateur magician can conjure up

I have made myself disappear
but also made myself forget that I ever
existed in the first place
made myself numb to the fact that I have the
power to bring her back
reverse exorcism in interiority

looked right through me
through double sided glass
reaching into myself to grasp
onto something worth living for
other than the past.

Artist: Augusto Avila Jr.

Amanda Pendley is a twenty-year-old writer from Kansas City who is currently studying Creative Writing and Publishing at the University of Iowa. She has previously worked as an editor for award winning teen literary magazine Elementia and as the Nonfiction Editor of Ink Lit Mag. She is currently Editor-in-Chief of Ink Lit Mag. Her work has appeared in publications of Ramona Magazine, Crêpe and Penn Literary Magazine, Outrageous Fortune Magazine, and many others. She often finds inspiration in Lorde songs, the wonders of midwestern peculiarities, and by doing the most important thing one can do in the world: listening.

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