For Erin

I remember you different, and that

is how my memory keeps you. It was a stretch

before the men we chose knew us—when your hair

rappelled in sloppy knots to your waist. The years

your mother thought we were lovers, always

balled up with joints and cupcakes

while The L Word labored on.

Even now, in nostalgia,

going to Slaughter’s isn’t the same. There are no

hangover breakfasts over monster biscuits.

No couch guys, shit-covered walls or you

making French toast in our fall apart kitchen.

Do you know,

you’re the only person who’s never

been cruel to me? How strange

that you’re a mother now, that your son

will never know you as anything but—

still, I know. I’ll remember. With the men

you’ll grow old. Your hair will thin even

more, your breasts begin to favor

your mother’s burden. But you and me,

us half-girls, half-women, we’ll grow young

together. Isn’t it lovely, that’s how I’ll always

see you: Girlish and flecked with freckles, not

a whit of makeup, and your smile (glorious)

with teeth that cage our history from extinction.

–Jessica Mehta

Jessica is the author of The Last Exotic Petting Zoo (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) and What Makes an Always published by Tayen Lane Publishing. She is the founder of MehtaFor, a writing company which serves a variety of clients including Fortune 500 enterprises and major media outlets. She’s a member of the Cherokee Nation and founded the Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund in 2013 for Native students pursuing an advanced degree in writing. Find out more about Jessica on Facebook.

The Halve Nots

Nobody wants to be half

of something, “whole”

is so much better. What’s good

in a half—those half-baked

ideas never blossomed

into anything. The half-hearted

tries turned ugly for years

‘til we put our whole everything

into it. Half-assed, half-witted,

half-breed, half-dead. Let’s argue

about glasses half-full, tumblers

half-empty and how it’s

All in your head!

Your bubbling over optimism or oil

slick pessimism is all up to you. So

fill me up with something, I’m sick

of explaining my Cherokee half. I’ll take anything,

just swell me with wholeness

even once, even in passing, even

at the gamble of spilling it all

over the goddamned hideous floor.

–Jessica Mehta

Jessica is the author of The Last Exotic Petting Zoo (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) and What Makes an Always published by Tayen Lane Publishing. She is the founder of MehtaFor, a writing company which serves a variety of clients including Fortune 500 enterprises and major media outlets. She’s a member of the Cherokee Nation and founded the Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund in 2013 for Native students pursuing an advanced degree in writing. Find out more about Jessica on Facebook.

Full (and Upright)

I once spent a twenty-two

hour flight with my hands under my ass.

It was too bony, and I

was too starved to stand the pain

of pelvis on hard airplane seats.

Back then, I was hungry

to disappear—just a few

less bites and Ta da!

I’m all gone. There were times

I was happy

I got no arm rests (what

does such a skinny thing need

all that space for?). You get any thinner,

you’ll disappear, said the lipsticked attendant.

And I smiled. Anoretics, we don’t

start out trying to kill ourselves.

But that’s what it becomes—

and it’s a slow death. A painful one, all

heart attacks and broken hips. Disappearing,

it’s not easy. You know? But that desire

to not be seen, to waft down the aisles like a ghost,

it’s strong. And we’re strong, you thin

it’s nothing to keep our lips closed?

We’re hungry all the time. Until we’re not,

until we’re not hosting the disappearing

act, we’re the unwitting audience member

clawing at the magician’s box as the saw

chews closer. Now, I want to be seen. Take

up space, elbow into every inch

of that overpriced seat I put on credit

and not give a damn if I eat

every mediocre plate that trolleys by.

–Jessica Mehta

Jessica is the author of The Last Exotic Petting Zoo (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) and What Makes an Always published by Tayen Lane Publishing. She is the founder of MehtaFor, a writing company which serves a variety of clients including Fortune 500 enterprises and major media outlets. She’s a member of the Cherokee Nation and founded the Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund in 2013 for Native students pursuing an advanced degree in writing. Find out more about Jessica on Facebook.