Nora Gause


Our Barbies are grinding, scissoring the town home down. Salem is in our schoolbooks and we are bewitched. Laid on top of each other, fabric scraps for sheets, frozen in friction. Some have their heads pulled off, hair chopped, rolling in a shoe box. Naked, no nipples, only venus mounds. It is hot and stuffy in there. We use boxes of safety matches for beds. Copies of The Joy of Sex and Our Bodies are taken and returned to the shelf under the stairs. We’re on our knees on the red brick patio. An ant colony lives there; workers come up to forage. Barbie picks a fight with Ken, tells him he’s worthless, rants, it’s not about the sex. Mid-Atlantic spring makes our thighs and backs sticky, we spellbind, are spellbound, chanting. Off with their heads! Boys, sometimes men, stare at our buds, budding. We hear calls, cats, murmurs. Magick happens. In a year, our hair will be chopped and dyed, maybe our heads will be off, there is something about head. We know that Ken is a placeholder, a caricature, that we are in danger, dangerous. Longing to drive off in our convertibles, we focus glasses, magnify. We tie Ken up in discarded nylons, spank him. We hold hands, dance, build cauldrons from our Tupperware lunch boxes. Toil, toil, boil and bubble, pine needles, grass, mud, stirred with our fingers. The ants burn in sunlight, grasshoppers hatch in droves. Charcoal burns the bricks, marks our faces, ashes. Our mothers might find the matches, Ourselves. At night we roam, giggling, shrieking, listening. Our mothers whisper. We hear them, through ice-crinkle highballs and Dynasty, urge our fathers about locks and doors.




A caterer and personal chef in Seattle, Nora Gause (non-binary she/they) loves the moment between click and woosh when a gas range lights. She thinks a lot about limerence, family histories, identities, and justice, and suspects that poems and recipes are spells in disguise. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Russian Language from Goucher College.