Cinthia Ritchie


Listen to the audio version read by Melissa Cotter.

I started laughing
   in the Kmart fitting room
       and couldn’t
it was too damned funny,
           that shirt and pants,
             and see those shoes
                trying to walk away
                      with that lady’s feet?

They ushered me
           to the back,
             gave me water and aspirin,
                      but I could feel
      bras and girdles inside
       my eyes,
             and when I reached for the
            (stand back, everyone stand back)
                      they hurried off and called the cops.

Two men rolled me away
             and stuck tubes
       my throat, lights across my teeth,
                   I was flying,
                         colors swinging,
               so beautiful,
             I was partying with Jesus
         at the Last Supper,
            guzzling grape Kool-Aid and
       eating Velveeta cheese, and when Jesus
                caught me
               wiping my nose on the tablecloth,
         she just winked
                 and handed me a napkin
(Modess, for those trying times of the month),

I was
             my tongue fattened on
       and oh Sweet Jesus, girl,

I woke two days later
   on a ward filled with women
       in a city I couldn’t remember visiting.
Beyond the mesh window, the sky was gray
   and cloudy, my skin winter pale
       when I pulled up my gown and examined
my belly, lonely and flat,
   a bruise spreading my hip
       like the bite of an angel.


*Previously published in Rainbow Curve.


Cinthia Ritchie is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee who runs mountain trails in Alaska with a dog named Seriously. Find her work at New York Times Magazine, Evening Street Review, Under the Sun, Water-Stone Review, damfino Press, The Boiler Journal, Panoplyzine, Barking Sycamores, Postcard Poems and Prose, Clementine Unbound, Poetic Medicine, Theories of HER anthology, GNU Journal, Deaf Poets Society, Breath and Shadow, Grayson Books Forgotten Women Anthology and others. She blogs about writing and Alaska life at