By Markita Naomi Schulman


Isn’t that a kind of orange?

Some breed of delicate clementine

or a part of all citrus, like the pith, the exocarp, the pedicel, the rind.

Grafted together on a stretching tee, branches strain,

juice stains the sidewalk and mixes with pigeon shit,

navels split open.

My mother’s is so deep and cavernous, I can push my finger into it for a very long time

I squeeze to get a better look but it is dark dark no matter what.

The bath water is warm


I drink it down and my belly expands and protrudes, I am full with the scolding I will receive.

Mine is an outie

But not like Jane’s, which is like a worm in an apple if the apple were flat as a board, she is stiff and upright and wears a two-piece. She shows me in the shower at the public pool where they have the breast cancer self-exam drawings and I wonder if they have different drawings with different tests in the men’s and I don’t know if she should be embarrassed.



In the backseat my grandmother presses her thumb against mine and says “Same” and they are,

like little toes.

Wide nail bed

wrinkly knuckle, mine like hers

nails flimsy

chewed down to almost the quick.

I bite my nails and spit out the imperfect crescents, find them later between couch cushions

Cuticles, too

I pull until I almost but usually do not


When I found out lesbians kept their nails short, as a rule

as a cliché

as a punch line

like the moving van

then I was the way I was supposed to be, not gross or something, I had a reason for this bad habit, it was all ingrained in me, I don’t know which came first

the nail biting or the sexual deviance

but they go well together.



The instructor

is muscle and nothing but, he wants me to watch him do handstands with the lights low.

I think if I were paying I would think he was wasting my money but I have a coupon so I do child’s pose until I am almost asleep, until he has us get down down

so far

I have not done this before and my “hips

are opening”

it doesn’t hurt me at all actually it is a new pleasure and I am aware of it.

But then I am crying fluidly, leaking on my stinky mat

I am holding this pose


I keep at it

it is eons, it is millennia and I am weeping like a sore quietly quietly but if I were alone

it would fill the room

I would be gigantic.

The Internet confirms that we are witnessed by our musculature, each body part linked to a feeling more than physical.

A classmate has the map stuck to her refrigerator

shin splints of self-reproach

wrists rigid inflexible

right foot’s dorsum fearful frightened terrorized

and there’s trauma! Coiled hissing scaly in the hips

Did I tighten like a fist in a single night of sleep with eyes open

or was childhood misalignment an omen, have I always walked clipped

faking feminine fluidity





Kaylee WarrenComment