- Kind: Perfectbound
- Pages: 60
- Language: English
- Date Published: December, 2020
- ISBN: 978-1-953252-10-4
In this heartfelt collection, women hide in cracker jack boxes, wine glasses, and designer shoes, all while longing to be seen and heard. Little Girl Gray may first appear a specter, but in Henson’s imagining she is given color and a voice. Henson has a gift for bringing life forth from unexpected places: Trees grow teeth, spiders sing at screen doors, bricks turn to bone, mosquitoes dance the samba. These poems are a testament to the power of the imagination to regenerate life after trauma and loss. —Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
On the page, Henson has found “our minds’ [own] common ground” with artistry and form as she navigates the innerworkings of the mind. She expertly employs form and spell blinds the reader with precise, magical language as we are drawn into the inner world of a brilliant and troubled psyche. Henson writes, “All she wanted was a big voice, not a whisper…” Little Girl Gray gives voice to the voiceless as it bends the understanding of alter ego, or the other self. With elegant mastery of Sestina, Henson explores what lives in the shadows and confronts the self with boldness and compassion. To say this work is necessary is inadequate. It is essential and bold and creates a living space for the inner life of the poet. —S.J. Stephens
Little Girl Gray’s been tucked
into the waterbed of her looks
and it’s rough here.
She gets seasick and puts the black fabric
of a scarf over her eyes. She doesn’t pretend
to know anything about slavery, but she
does know what it means to be reduced and she
takes her tiny heart and tucks
it in her pocket, pretending
that if she just focuses and looks
in all the right places, into the fabric
of all the right faces, she’ll get herself here—
the real, existing world outside. Here,
where people strive to be, but cannot name, and she
ponders the fabric
of her heart, its arteries tucked
into the clavicle, looking
so feminine—something she can only pretend
to be, as fat girls can only pretend
that being themselves is acceptable here
are the most important thing. She
stares into the eyes tucked
in her head, the thin fabric
of the cornea. The thin fabric
of her dress is a pretend
armor, her legs crossed, tucked
under. She has to be a lady here—
here, where she
only amounts to her gray looks.
When she looks
at the future, she sees a swath of fabric,
can only pretend
a competent answer when people here
ask her who she is. She tries to stay tucked
inside the here and now, but she can’t look
beyond it–the tucked fabric.
She pretends the riddle of now is here.
Megan D. Henson received her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Kentucky. She is the author of one other collection, What Pain Does (Dos Madres Press, 2018). Her work has appeared in various journals including Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing and Gravel. Her short story “Girl, Sick with Stories” won an Honorable Mention in the International Human Rights Art Festival’s 2020 Creators of Justice Literary Award. She teaches at Northern Kentucky University.
J. Michael Skaggs’s award-winning photography has been published in The State of America, Black and White Magazine, B&W+COLOR Magazine, Licking River Review and True NKU. He created the photographs for What Pain Does by Megan Henson. He is the author of Americans Revisited Volume I (Edgecliff Press, 2008). He has exhibited in New York City, New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, Vermont, Indiana, Oklahoma and Kansas. Michael received his M.A. in Speech Communication from Montclair State University. He has taught Public Speaking, Intro to Communication Studies and Photojournalism courses at Northern Kentucky University since 2000.