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Red Oxide of Iron
Jane-Rebecca Cannarella
Writer of the Month


I thought about naming the freckles that spot your skin, nose to neck to shoulder. Spots on the back of your hands that I bend my neck down to examine individually. Huddles of cinnamon constellations.

At one point, eight years ago, I bought someone a stuffed animal that came with a star that you could name. I don’t think he ever named the star or the stuffed animal, and if he did, how would he ever find it in the phantasmagoria of the evening’s complex patterns? So, I abandoned Outer Space. And I started naming patterns on people. Arrangements on your epidermis that mirror the Solar System. Complexions that parallel the Great Attractor.

I have fingerprint black and blues on the soft meat on the inside of my thighs from the whorls of your fingers. During the day, I vacation to the front of a mirror and press them, the tiny shocks of hurt reminding me of your dotted hands. I think about the loops and patterns and meanings of your fingertips. The Pleiades located at the end of your forearm. The dusting of freckles on your nose resting on my knees – a thousand superclusters.

There’s a chocolate bar in my purse that you bought me. I rip ragged hunks off of it, dirtying my fingernails – filled with the melting body of the candy as I paw at pieces. I hold it between my tongue and teeth. It seeps through the slack of my jaw, pooling against my soft and hard palate. The slice cut on my bottom lip burns when I tuck it between my central incisors. When I tip my chin toward the sky, the sweetness slips down my throat.

What’s real that I can grasp in my fist? When you yield to the Hesperides, is it possible to account for the gravitational pull? Can you see the other side of the galaxy?

When my body’s stopped orbiting, I touch the tip of my kingfisher-tongue to each pinpoint on you: beryllium, carbon, helium, iron.


originally published in The Nottingham Review

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 he many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website .