Separation Anxiety

Nicole Rivera


The girl liked her nose, its crust-crowded rims
and sultry dripping.
She liked to be awake all night, compelled, eyes skipping
across the chipped ceiling’s constellation
of cocaine. She liked to snort alone
in her dim room the tea-tint color
of library book paper.
She liked the door locked so the ghost couldn’t enter. The ghost
taunted itself, tried to follow and ask if she’d like
some oatmeal for breakfast. The girl refused, deafened by the off-
white lull of the apartment hallway.
Instead, she liked scratching the powder off the bureau
with her metrocard, unrolling the dollar bill, licking the leftovers
off the edges, her throat burning on stale sour gulps.
She liked not eating, not getting hungry, her stomach
flat and coiling while her bones crippled from winter
sickness, but she liked that too.
She liked her baggy tights, no pockets for tip money,
more to blow on blow to blacken her
cushioned eyes with small bags of sugar dusted rocks.
But then she saw
her mother in the mirror, the ghost she thought
she locked out, their wasted faces overlapped, her mother’s
flickerlight whispers falling short of conversation, again,
just as it was before she left. The girl’s sleepless face
stirred in a brown blur with her matted hair,
her eyeliner swiped with crying, she echoed in withdrawal. Her cold comforter ruffled
and absorbed her, and still, nobody came home.




Nicole Rivera is a New York native, born and raised on the Lower East Side– now known as ‘The East Village’. Born into a multicultural family with indigenous roots, Nicole has struggled to find spaces for people of color, specifically mestizas, where she feels a sense of belonging. Most of her writing grapples with family dynamics and how identity informs interpersonal relationships. She studied Creative Writing in Hunter College before moving onto obtain her Master’s in Secondary Education. She now teaches at a transfer high school in the Bronx, spreading her love for writing to any young person she encounters.