GW Creative Writing Students Feature

For the rest of the semester, we will be featuring select students’ creative writing that they are producing in our workshop classes. The work you will read will range from poetry, fiction, nonfiction and plays. Please check back frequently as we hope to showcase a different student’s writing twice weekly.
For our first feature, I am proud to introduce Jenny McKean Moore Writer in Washington professor Ryan Van Cleave’s student Cristina Sciarra. Cristina is a senior majoring in English and Creative Writing.


Many a woman has a past; but I am told she
has at least a dozen, and that they all fit.
– Oscar Wilde

At sixteen, Jack scrubs coke into her gums
with the narrow blade of an index finger,
her body splayed across the dented wood
of our bedroom floor; when she rests
her head in my lap I can smell the musky oil
she nightly kneads into her dreadlocks.

Staring up at her Jim Morrison poster
with something like reverence
he, too, is posed as if he were a martyr—
arms wide and ribs vivid. She too
will die before twenty eight, she promises.

She still makes empty promises,
but allows me only doses now,
then blames it on the distance.
I know about the cigarettes—
those she stopped bothering to hide.
I’ve seen pictures of her pierced nipples
too. I know about the bruises on her lower back
the size of apples, gifts from a boy
she just couldn’t shake.

What I get now are spare parts; only enough
to piece together the rough outline of a story.
Like chinks of light spit from a strobe
or the swinging caress of a lighthouse beam—
part of the landscape always obscured,
the kaleidoscopic picture always changing—as if
by trying to catch her in your sight, the act itself,
is enough to damn yourself completely.

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