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Before I Lived in a World of Funhouse Mirrors

Curry Teems

The new hand soap I bought the other 
day smells too familiar, like at eight years 
old—drinking too-sweet tea on the 
front porch and chatting with  

old family, right after rolling around  

in Red Georgia clay with skeeter bites running 
up and down my legs, arms, toes, and 
armpits. One glob of the gel soap 

brings me back to summer break right  

before school starts, when I woke to birds  

chanting a not-so-alarming song and Baba  

mowing grass every Saturday, when my 
brother still hated me,  

when he aimed and shot the BB 

gun at my face and we trampoline 
bounced as the rain fell down and  
bled through our clothes and it smelled 

like hot, wet asphalt past our bumpy gravel 
driveway where that brick hit my head 
when it was supposed to be 
flowers from the blooming dogwood 
tree that lined the gravel like a gate, 
and the old Tacoma rolled 

down like the blood in my blonde hair and my 
Daddy found me lying on a bed of clover and  

flowers with steaming, bloody tears. The soap smelled 
like before I lived in a world of funhouse 
mirrors and I have to throw it away, because 
I look at my distorted self in the funky long 
glass and my body twirls around itself until I 
no longer see that red-dirt-covered, skeeter-bitten, 
bloodied-up girl I was. Who knew the fickle reflectors  

effected smells too? Now I reek 


of cheap deodorant and crunchy gel 

encapsulating my hair, like sticky 

shaving cream meant to smooth me and clear 

gel face wash that doesn’t get rid of the red 

stress bumps and that old guitar smell as rusty 

strings ricochet chords and my dusty blue Vans 

and sweaty summer Chacos. I smell 


like I don’t know what I look like anymore, 
as the shifting glass mocks me 

into hatred, and I toss the 
soap in the tiny charcoal trashcan  

by the sink, but the smell still sits in the 

soap rings on the counter. I scrub and scrub, 

since I can’t remember who I was 
before, there’s no point in smelling it 
every day just wishing I could. 

Fall 2023

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