Nadine Hitchiner

Self-Portrait as Tinder

You part your hair zigzag again, so I can’t ghost you. 

I swipe across your scalp & perch on its dandruff—

it snows mid-August & I feel so super special 

without my seasonal depression. 
Had such small wavelength, no true imagination. 
& so, I theorise about the green thumb 

of my mother; the lilac pyramids in her front yard 

& the headlights of her car, atomising 

the dark. I was only myself, trying music—

who is only me 
in motorised skin—& thought:
a pianist is only a prison 

guard holding a key & thought, now this music 

had made a good woman 

of herself & still, you break my heart. 

& so, I waited for it to rain
my lover’s beard—he’d cut the hedge 
& flushed the stubble.

Shaved the chin

into the wheelbarrow.

Roller skated to the street sign 

with his razor—looked so boyish:
wish I’d known him. Found a neon 
seed, a smoke of worms.

Found the stencil 

of a six pack shape a lovesong

like a turtle—found it in his hair 

like curlers,
& you got so jealous.

& so, the lanterns baptise 
their light. I heard a god invent hibiscus 
in Alaska, & it all happened in my body.

Pinched two things that exist 

like they did not, & so now they’re woke

like me: a praying 

mantis on a popsicle—aren’t you absurd? 
Something outran my childhood like a cyst 
on a kitten & it was just a prototype.

They tell me to fix it, or else—

& so, was my own death only fiction?

For everything behavioural 

there’s a thesaurus, there’s archeology. 
I couldn’t hear god 
think that day, couldn’t replace it,

& so, the ferris wheel in my Babylonic

head, so the language. & so, you are 

& aren’t you a dynamo, spinning on air.
& aren’t you just artificial grass in snow.



Hey, I’m back. Came here closed        atlas, peppered             light—
            swung beneath a disco ball,                                              didn’t feel it.
                          Watched the robbery:                 everyone hunched 
                                                                     their hips           under the laserlight, 
            smeared across their skin                     like green 
lipstick on St. Patrick’s.                                                                   Didn’t feel it
                                            wear off. Came here 
because the street was pouched in light                        and I had no clutch
to go with my shoes, yet.           Came here asking people       in whose image
you were made—                       silly me, 
                                                         forgot you didn’t have to be made twice 
to be remembered.                     Came here        and then the music
                             was clueless. 
                                                         Came here because the street lamps were low 
pyramids—                    so ancient,        but I still wonder            who’s the dust,
who’s the museum and 
                                            where                is           the dance floor? 
            Pre-electric light only had one                emotion: a single longing to dissolve
            in darkness— 
                                                         came here because there was a silencer 
                             screwed onto my lanterns. 
Thought you might know something about the body                  that isn’t bodiless,
                             that isn’t 
                                                         a migration. 
            Know I’m only soft                      at a distance,       only brutal to myself up close.
I’ve got a blindfold     between my shoulders—              I only measure uneven
                             5’6 but hear you’ve got a ladder, 
hear you’re a forest and I’m returning                in my head-lit canoe.


Nadine Hitchiner (she/her) is a German poet and author of the chapbook Bruises, Birthmarks & Other Calamities (Cathexis Northwest Press, 2021). She was a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been published in Midway Journal, GASHER, Red Ogre Review, and others. She lives in her hometown with her husband and their dog. Find her on Twitter: @nadinekwriter.