Literary Orphans

Cartographer by Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

When I turned grown-up, my body became a map. Fault lines at the creases of my thighs. Dots glowing in clusters at my shoulders, turning into constellations driving sailors home. Gin in my mouth became juniper in my blood – the kind of juice that staves off diseases.

As my covering shifted, I retreated into my frame, a silent ghost haunting the architecture of my interior. Every organ a cave, secreting myself in the middle earth layers of my insides. I ran into rooms that locked from the inside.

Outside, an unruly formation has been crafted by quakes and tectonic plates shifting. If scientists look closely, they could study my geology from the dry crust of hide: sallow sinking meat.

My soil is pressed with indentations, imprints left by a trail of bodies, pilgrims who abandoned their journey while I was weighed down to the bed. Like a butterfly, pinned and mounted under glass.

When I turned grown-up, there was still dew in my hair – a thicket resembling the Indiana Limberlost.

But branches of veins formed a new cratered desert on what was once a “me” that I finger-traced, a “me” that I knew so well. Entire pieces of my body divided into yellowing fragments: from uncharted ruins to unnavigable shapes crafted by the bends in my build.

My stomach is now full of pebbles, like a dinosaur swallowing rocks to help digest plants; the stones rattle with movement and I sound like a castanet. In younger years, I smiled so hard that it cracked my mouth full of crooked teeth. These hard smiles fashioned precious fractures in the incisors, until my teeth have begun to resemble the prehistoric rocks that spot the water of my own Long Island Sound.

On one occasion, the Sound broke free and fell out of my eyes. The water gone, I dried my face and made it age. Salt left me a trailed corn husk and ripped my cheeks. When the skin opened and spilled, it turned into ash. Where once there were waterfalls, now lives ghost-white gunpowder. My face — the Wild West.

I matured into a lonely continent. My body, a friendless, fuckless landmass that holds the history of looting pioneers. From the inside, I study and restudy the map of my body, a fossil boasting rocks like music, filled up and up with dinosaur stones.

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Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit.   She was a genre editor at Lunch Ticket, as well as a former contributing writer at SSG Music and Sequart: Art & Literacy. When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website

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–Foreground Art by Giuseppe Milo

–Background Art by Steven Gray