Self-portrait; 5.14.19 / by Melissa Laree Cunningham


Sitting in the reoccurring field, bounded by a treeline of near-coastal pine, she waits for a never-ending sunset of gold to change shape, a dream-thing undone. Dreams here are a hovering world, a hologram of life disassembled and kneaded and reshaped into a hazy which truth is the real truth. In this truth, she stares intently at the boundary, individual shapes of soft, lush edges, belying their sharp pointed needles of dark green. She waits to drag the palms of her hands down, across the heavy, dried bark, etching thin white lines into her skin.

This near light, in evening, thick and heavy like honey pulled from combs in the stacked, white boxes her parents found in the far northeast corner. She was five then. How old is she now, in the reoccurring dream of green and gold: twelve, twenty-three, twenty-seven, thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three. She imagines her body an evergreen. Dripping branches, like tendrils, reaching for but never quite brushing the ground. When the winds come, the farthest lengths of her whip, a swaying rhythm. Steady in the wind as it splits around her moving parts.