2020 Summer Contest Issue 26 poetry

I Attend a Pool Party at Some Guy’s L.A. Mansion

by Alaina Bainbridge

The War Within by Olga Brindar

I try to keep my eyes open. I watch sunlight ripple
over blue-gold water. Light shadows jump, make me
nauseous. A few years ago,

all the Tumblr girls were obsessed with Ophelia.
They’d lie down on muddy banks, flower crowns
glowing against dark, green marsh, stare blankly

into the camera, glossed lips parted sensuously,
eyes absent as a clear sky. My hand gives out,
ice spills over my orange towel. My Gin & Tonic

highball glass is sinking, falling slowly through water,
black straw still stuck between my fingers. We love
dead women.

We love their pale, frozen bodies floating like dead
fish in a bathtub. We love their dead eyes and dead
mouths and dead limbs. My body collapses, hits hot

white concrete. Warm blood pools under my hair.
And even as panic rises in me, I wonder if I look
beautiful. Like that Jimmy Choo ad with the dead

model stuffed into the trunk, high-heeled feet hanging
from a black Cadillac—a man with a shovel,
ready to bury her tanned, skinny body in the desert.

We love beautiful dead women. The man’s groin
appears, his hands remove my red bikini bottom,
sliding it down my frozen legs. At least,

that’s how I imagine it. In the The Worshipper of the Image,
Richard Le Gallienne falls in love with the bloated,
anonymous body of L’Inconnue de la Seine, his obsession

driving his living, breathing wife and daughter to suicide,
favoring instead the water logged woman whose face
is forever plastered with a breathless, easy smile. I assume

the men thrust into my limp body. I assume their cocks
were fleshy, like rotten peaches. But I have no idea.
I wake on a dirty bathroom floor, scum stains on a porcelain

toilet bowl. My wet cotton underwear around my ankles.
Head pounding. The sounds of people partying.
And as I pull myself from the floor, searching for my jeans

I wonder if, perhaps, L’Inconnue de la Seine gained in death
a weight and agency never afforded to her in life.

Alaina Bainbridge is a second-year MFA candidate in fiction at The University of Colorado at Boulder. Her work has appeared in Cagibi Journal, Dreamer’s Magazine, and The William & Mary Review. She has forthcoming publications in The Colorado Review, The Cincinnati Review, and The Raleigh Review. She is currently working on her first full-length poetry collection.

Olga Brindar has a BFA from Carnegie Mellon. Her visual media includes charcoal, acrylic, watercolor, ink, and marker. In fits and starts, she writes literary non-fiction and poetry. Currently, she lives in Pittsburgh, PA, and dreams of being posthumously rich and famous.