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July 17, 2018 by The Citron Review
by Sarah Wernsing
Evening at the river, we are here too late. We skip rocks, watch plash and ripple. Water stills. As bedtime nears, we stretch a moment already passing. The river returns sky, what little light is left. My daughter holds a rock. I fold my hand around hers. Above us, a sickle moon. When I look up and close my eyes, I see the crescent behind my eyelids, an impression held longer than the thing itself.
I rush when summoned to my daughter’s preschool. Her teacher says, “Your daughter bit a friend.” Red skin, a half-circle deepening to purple. “I didn’t,” my daughter said. “I didn’t bite.” She runs from me, turns her face to the fence, will not look up. I wonder if she will remember running from her own shame. “No need for crying,” her teacher says. Or maybe it’s my own teacher I’m remembering: Once lodged, such words are hard to shake loose.
On the counter, my daughter’s tiny fingernail clippings are milky crescents against white tile. A brittle remnant of her body in this moment. Her fingernails will never be this small, this size, this shape again. I do not know what to do with these pieces of her. When I sweep them into the garbage, one sticks for a moment on my palm, pricking skin. For a moment I hold it before letting go.
Sarah Wernsing is an advisor and instructor at Colorado State University, where she is also an MFA candidate. She has other work published in CALYX, Pilgrimage Magazine, and Vilas Avenue. When she is not writing, she can be found cooking, gardening, petting cats, or chasing kids.