It’s relationship building, he said, mounting
my bare back to pluck those stiff white strands

from the swamp of black that coats
my scalp. Got one! He said. Like he’d caught

a trout. The line dropped: crooked and sharp,
a quiet, thin thunderbolt. A strip of me, between

my belly and throat, began to cry out. But I silenced
it. Because the rest of flesh just wanted to enjoy

the moment—and isn’t that the thing? So instead, I lie
there, and let him scale me. Let his edges

flood mine. And when he laughed,
I laughed. (There’s safety in the signs

of aging when you aren’t old.) And after he rolled
over, and smiled, and shut his eyes, I watched the arc

of his head against the pillow, and the inches of blue
cotton between us, as they swelled into oceans.

Elizabeth Tannen is a Brooklyn-born, Minneapolis-based writer. Her essays and fiction have been featured in Salon, The Rumpus, NPR, B O D Y and elsewhere.

:: more from this issue ::

Penthouse Girl

Marley Andino

For Today

Melissa Matthewson

Today I Fought the Urge

Jane Huffman

The Literary Life of My Vagina



Robert Long Foreman


Bob McNeil


Elizabeth Tannen


J. Michael Wahlgren