from Songs for Dead Girls
Zombie Girl understands the difference between love and sex, even though sometimes they slur into each other like drunk co-eds. The difference between meat and spirit, the pure, fleshy tether of limbs and how they liquefy at the touch. The bright shining behind her eyes. Zombie Girl understands these things the way she understands the diffraction of her hand in water. The temperature at which snow melts on her tongue. Understands them in the way that animals understand danger and do not need to speak of it.
Zombie Girl can't cook. Can't look at the TV. Can't find the remote for all the singing in her head. The blankets singe against her skin. The thin membrane of her wearing away like a blister at her heel. The real beginning of the story not death, but disengagement. How the body leaves the body for something else. How she was always wandering down empty hallways, her hands thumbing every lock. Every cock in a pair of Levis idly. Zombie Girl puts out, falls over at the slightest nudge. The body leaving the body for something sliding against her in the dark.
Early on, Zombie Girl loses her appendix. Her tonsils. A handful of baby teeth rattling in her mother's dresser. Zombie Girl loses her pieces slowly, year by year, then faster. The hearing in her left ear, the feeling in her wrist when typing. The body is all about failing, about falling apart like an overripe fruit. A loosening of limbs from their sockets, even the earrings in her pocket fallen from her lobes. Zombie Girl collects her pieces nightly and places them in the bed. Rises in the morning, incomplete but intact.
Sometimes the body sleeps and sometimes Zombie Girl dreams about cake, endless miles of lemon chiffon and a knife covered in blood. Every once in a while, the cake becomes a desert and the dryness gathers in her throat, moves through her like wind fluttering the pages of a book. Sometimes the body moves without her, through strip malls and parking lots, the sound of heat moving in the space she leaves behind.
A writer and visual artist, Kristy Bowen is the author of several book, chapbook, and zine projects, including major characters in minor films (Sundress Publications, 2015), the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013), and girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). Her work has appeared most recently in Split Lip Review, Hound, and Whiskey Island. She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio and spends much of her time writing, making papery things, and curating a chapbook series devoted to women authors. Her next full-length collection, salvage, is due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2016.
Illustration by Meghan Murphy.