Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

Pain Scale by Leticia Urieta

“Rate your pain on a scale of–”

1. A parachute fallen in the shaded woods
2. Cutting heirloom tomatoes for a salad. The fleshy pale red center reminds you of the inside of your uterus which was scraped clean of the remnants of a pregnancy. They taste acidic, blood in your mouth
3. Complete relief of sweat cooling in the middle of your back
4. A bunch of silky rosemary cut with care from the bush growing wild
5. Deepest burning breath before the undertow pulls you back
6. Losing the dexterity of your tongue over a word you no longer recognize, choking on your own spit
7. A plastic prescription bottle that rattles with the last pill
8. Pasture green amazonite warming against the throat
9. The delicious rot as you stand over the compost and pour more slimy potato skins and banana peels in to witness the hopeful decomposition that will feed all the creatures you cannot see
10. The crumple of translucent examination table paper under your bare ass. You are afraid to hear it move and wrinkle under you, knowing how it will be torn away and discarded once you leave

Bio: Leticia Urieta (she/her/hers) is a Tejana writer from Austin, TX. She is a teaching artist in the greater Austin community and the Program Director of Austin Bat Cave, a literary community serving students in the Austin area, as well as the co-director of Barrio Writers Austin and Pflugerville, a free creative writing program for youth. Leticia is also a freelance writer. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and holds an MFA in Fiction writing from Texas State University. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Chicon Street Poets, Lumina, The Offing, Kweli Journal, Medium, Electric Lit and others. Her chapbook, The Monster was published in 2018 from LibroMobile Press. Her hybrid collection, Las Criaturas, was a finalist for the Sergio Troncoso Award for Best First Book of Fiction 2022 from the Texas Institute of Letters, and is out now from FlowerSong Press.

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