by Sarah Hansen

When we stopped to refuel
I told you I loved the smell of gasoline.
As a child, I would go to the pump
with my mother just to breathe the fumes.
You told me how your sister caught fire.
A single spark from a cigarette dropped
too close to the pump.
Now her skin reflects light.

When it became too cold to sleep in the car,
we stopped at the Motel 6. I went to take a shower
and you made a joke about Norman Bates.
I laughed because that’s what you’re supposed to do
when people make jokes, but when I held
that slippery, glistening bar of soap
I thought about Janet Leigh.

I saw her draped over the bathtub,
fake blood painting the porcelain canvas
like watercolors while her hand grasped
the slick, vinyl shower curtain,
take after take. I imagined her rising
and falling, her body lapping against the tile
like a relentless tide, soft skin bruised
from so much pretending. 

University & College Poetry Prizes Page