Micro Prose: Lessons in Intimacy by Afton Montgomery

Cover image courtesy of unsplash.com


In the dark: I catch her hand on the windowlip of one of the panes in my body (hard to say which
because there’s no light pollution here and I lose my flank from my thighs in the night). It could
be the left calf, where lately there’s been an ingrown hair in the corner of the sill; the right chest,
where the ribs are like expensive blinds I keep tilted always-not-at-all so I can look out. It could
be the large kidney window in the back or the smaller single-panes in the left eye-socket or
overtop the intestines, which can trick someone into thinking they’re seeing brain from an
intimate enough distance. I see her long fingerbones for just a second (a film still!) and it’s
impossible, too, to tell whether she’s scooting the glass of me shut (safety!) or cascading it open
to entrails or G spot. I’ve been keeping the windows cracked lately: a summering; and their neat
tattersall cubes have been overlapping in sinister or artful ways, depending on the light and time
of day.

The girl with the hands is the little self that lives behind my self, Kaveh Akbar’s tiny heart sewn
behind the one that beats.1 In the dark, she makes glass creak against dust in its frame. Last
summer at the lakes, I sat reading with my feet in the ever-blooding water while a man from
Serbia gutted his fishes and lined them up in a row down his arm, which went in the mouths and
out the abdomens (if you like to think the Rio Grande trout were mouthing his flesh with
fishteeth) or in the abdomens and out the mouths (if you’d rather think of a systemic rejection—
a vomiting (a scream!)). I jolt when a flashlight somewhere in the knee flicks on and lights my
body from below: all 17 windows flung open in a chorus of ghostgirl hands— a unison vacuum
sound after the knife enters all of my holes and I fall out. A rushing in.

1 “Exciting the Canvas” (American Poetry Review, vol. 45, no. 2)

AFTON MONTGOMERY is an MFA candidate in nonfiction at the University of Idaho, where she is the managing editor for Fugue. She was selected by Vi Khi Nao as the prose winner of the 2021 Mountain West Writers’ Contest at Western Humanities Review and was a finalist for the Pinch Literary Awards in nonfiction in 2018. Afton was formerly the frontlist buyer at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. She calls Colorado home. 

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