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by Tamara Thomson

She did not ask if I was alcoholic
or if I wore a white headscarf while
playing Frisbee with a husband in shorts.
She did not ask if I was map
or tattered territory.

She asked, instead, “Are you Mennonite?”
“No.” I said.
She paused.
“Are you Jewish?” She asked.
“No.” I said.

But what I wanted to say was:
I held a silver Star of David, once,
to the flame of a Bic lighter—
when it burned red I pressed it
to the back of my hand,
above the wrist, to brand myself
like a cow; as a Jew.
Only it bubbled black and left
a lump of pink with blurred edges
not six intersecting lines.

“Where did you find your handbag?” I asked.
“Nordstrom or thrift?”

But, what I wanted to say was:
Are there black spots on your cornea
From staring at the sun?
Have you ever noticed how a copper beech ignites
green to purple from the inside out?
Are you aware that the sexually ravenous
get bug-eyed in the exact same way
whether they read Baudrillard
or “How to Read Tarot Cards?”

“Nordstrom,” she said.

I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear:
I am territory. Yes. Territory.




Tamara Pace Thomson is an MFA candidate in creative writing. She and her husband have three kids, two dogs, and a hedgehog (thanks to Shamae Budd for the inspiration).