by Chloe N. Clark

The first time I see my love unclothed
he looks like the vanity mirror version
of what I’d imagined:

everything just a little different
than I expected. Sharper angles
and a scar that wound

down one leg, a shooting star
arc of once-felt pain. His body
I imagined would fit into

mine so easily, like threading
a needle through my desire. Up
close, there was one small flaw

in his consistency: a dark circle
in his center, where a belly button
might have been there was a just

an absence. I asked him what it was,
what it meant, and he told me that
when he was born his mother forgot

to give him a name. He told me
to kiss him, close my eyes, and taste
his skin on my tongue. He tasted like

the lake where I swam as a child,
the color of the sky before storms,
the feeling of falling from a hammock

but before the wind got knocked from
my lungs. Those split seconds before
the gasp, the whoosh of pain, always

felt like this time I might never
get hurt.

Chloe N. Clark’s work appears in such places as Bombay GinDrunken BoatFlash Fiction OnlineHobartMidwestern Gothic, and more. She writes for Nerds of a Feather and Ploughshares. In addition she teaches college comp and tweets @PintsNCupcakes.