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Tuesday, March 07, 2006


by Rochelle Ratner

For as little as $1 per nail, the machine can transfer a
photograph. They suggest it's perfect for pet photos. She
thinks of the one cat she had who never learned to hold her
claws in. Sixteen years of waking up early to feed her and
she still has the scars. She thinks maybe photos of men
who loved then left her, with a glittering black X painted
through each sneering face. Then she has a better idea –
she'll paint the babies. All the pictures that have been
jamming her email box of late – a neice's daughter, the
grandchildren of three friends, the co-worker's firstborn,
the twins of someone else she works with. Ten little
reminders of what she was expected to gush over, morning
and night scrubbed with harsh soap until the image fades.
With her index fingers she slowly and carefully peels off
the paint. She picks up a handful of sticky raisins. She uses
her right index finger to pick her nose, but never when her
friends are looking.

Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: