Jenni Booker Senter

SELF PRESERVATION

I layer pink rouge

on my pale cheeks,

the bones like a bas relief

jutting from my cold face.

 

My hands,

once supple

and able,

stiffen to impotence.

 

I force my limbs

into a pleasant

posture

so as not to offend

those who mourn me.

 

My heart

I remove and discard,

filling the hole

with handfuls

of sawdust.

 

My grimace

of despair

I mold into a false

smile,

tucking the straight pins

into my cheeks,

pinning them

into place.

 

 

TRAPPED BETWEEN HERE AND THERE

 

Standing at the ledge—

at the edge of it all—

I am a small speck before sea and sky.

 

The water is blue and refreshing.

I cannot swim.

The sky is clear and open.

I cannot fly.

 

Remaining even with the horizon,

where the up and down meet and blur,

I stand inert.

 

Jeni Booker Senter is an author, editor, English teacher, and an advocate for mental health awareness. She has bipolar disorder, but it doesn’t have her. Her writing is cathartic in dealing with the intricacies of navigating adulthood after growing up in generational familial dysfunction and poverty. Her writing has earned awards in the C.M. Duque Wilson Essay Contest and the Christian LaRoche Memorial Poetry Contest. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society, and she has a master of arts in English and creative writing. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction. She has contributed to the Blackwater Review, the Journal of South Texas Studies, A&U, Troubadour, and other literary journals.