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Similar Shapes

In second grade / I learned that a rectangle does not have a diagonal line of symmetry / it can only be folded into equal parts / vertically and horizontally / when we lived in Atlantic City / my family of four shared a bedroom / our two beds were pressed / perpendicular to one another / while Ma applied lipstick in the vanity mirror / I stood beside her / gliding Chapstick across my lips / I knew not to touch any of her makeup / the white shakas on her wrists / cracked upon contact / with skin & bone / when we moved to Northfield / I had my own room / a floor length mirror hung over my closet door / Ma’s bedroom had an entire wall made of mirror tiles / our bedrooms were wedged / perpendicular to one another / in middle school geometry Ma signed my tests / & I waited for the blows / I’d never be a good brown kid / Ma wore drugstore makeup that reeked of chemicals / I used her red Revlon lipstick for cleavage-heavy Myspace pics / I used her red Revlon lipstick to write I hate you on her mirrored wall / the pointed tip in the tube became blunt / I imagined punching the mirror / watching its fragmentation / I taught myself to use lip balm to fill cracks in my lip lines / but I didn’t know that rubbing alcohol / could repair broken powder foundation / the only solution I knew / was to just stop trying / a rectangle cannot be folded diagonally / into identical parts / a neat edge can be drawn across the shape / before it is cut into two triangles / but the line of reflexivity / will always / cease to exist


Anuradha Bhowmik is a Bangladeshi-American poet and writer from South Jersey. She is an MFA candidate at Virginia Tech and a 2018 AWP Intro Journals Project Winner in Poetry. Anuradha can be found at www.anuradhabhowmik.com.