Gina Marie Bernard

a hairline fissure in the plaster divides the wall beneath your window

but you know better

once upon a time it curled in the corner of your eye like a massive black adder
and though you cannot recall the night it first worked its triangular head

under your bedspread to sink hinged fangs into your childish mirth
you’ve shivered for years thus envenomed

it became the tire swing rope knotted to the limb of a stalwart oak in your front yard
its braids eating into the bark as you imagined they might bite your neck

it hung in the fine spun space between shed doors
a webbed darkness beckoning like Shelob amid skewed and rusting hinges

it was the taut stringer that held pond sunfish by their bloodless gills
stiff yellow bodies tumbling off the nylon like so many pumpkin seeds

it spooled to the floor as ribbons of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me vomited from your shitty tape deck
cutting Robert Smith’s throat as he yowled “Why Can’t I Be You?”

it revealed itself amid countless rows of frozen earth reaching toward the North Dakota horizon
abandoned homesteads weathering the prairie like spectral tombstones

its razor certainty confirmed in zippers wristed by the Riot Grrl who always asked for your dessert
until she was released first and you pitched your fucking pudding against the hospital wall

and you saw it just this morning in the split shell of the lifeless painted turtle you nudged into the ditch
with your shoe under the promise of an otherwise bluebird sky

so though it may be a simple hairline fissure dividing the plaster beneath your window

it’s also sure evidence of an unstable and crumbling foundation


Gina Marie Bernard is a heavily tattooed trans woman, roller derby vixen, and full-time English teacher. She has completed a 50-mile ultra marathon, followed Joan Jett across the US, taught creative writing at a medium-security prison, and purposely jumped through a hole cut in lake ice. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own her heart. She has written one YA novel, Alpha Summer (2005), and one collection of short fiction, Vent (2013). Her work has recently appeared in r.kv.r.y. quarterly, Flypaper Magazine, The Hunger Journal, and Nature Writing. She has creative nonfiction forthcoming in Waccamaw Journal.