Rebe Huntman

Mermaids

The Southern Review, Autumn 2016: poetry

The Italian brothers paid $40,000 for her. She was stitched

from monkey arms and fish skin, assembled

by a bird stuffer in London’s West End.

Barnum’s came from Japanese fishermen

who claimed her charmed corpse might rescue

the human race. These are facts—

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Parched

The Southern Review, Autumn 2016: prose poem

Because at Glenwood Gardens there are no orange poppies flashing their fiery centers. No riotous tulips. Just these few violets wilting out front. Rows of boxwoods cut into squares. Such a hassle anyway, the outdoors! We must roll out the wheelchair, find the sunglasses. Everything worth seeing has been brought inside—seashells stamped on beach-inspired wallpaper. Framed florals pressed behind glass. No extravagant watercolors. Just these print replicas hiding behind Latin names.

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Upholstery

Juked (9-13-2016): short story

She was a girl under construction. Pretty but not, and always splitting herself in two. There was the exacting-self, who hardly ate in the hopes that there would be less of her to disappoint. At work she rejoiced in the latest in colonics and spinning classes with a group of unnaturally thin and beautiful co-workers who’d decided, as a collective, to starve themselves for the benefit of worldwide women’s perfection. At the gym she pumped and sweat off any trace of kale. And when she finally emptied herself, she made her way home and sank, exhausted, into her purple chair, where the other self—the one that fed her hunger—took over.

 

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Mother with Paul Newman and Small Axis

Ninth Letter Volume 13:1  (Spring/Summer 2016): poetry

If I could see nothing but the quiver

on her red lips, I would know everything

about the girl she clasped inside her handbag.

I would know this was a café where doors spun open

before they closed and a woman might

for a moment remember who she was.

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Anatomy of a Tango

Sonora Review Issue 67  (Spring 2015): essay

“My parents have been married over thirty years when my mother convinces my father to take ballroom dancing lessons. Until now they’ve done it his way, my father improvising a self-taught jitterbug to whatever music happens to be playing, my mother doing her best to follow along. Now twice a week they drive to a Fred Astaire dance studio to learn the foxtrot and tango. How to create a dance frame that will hold them both in place as they spin counterclockwise around the ring of the ballroom—my father’s left hand cupping my mother’s shoulder blade, his right grasping her fingers gently yet firmly between his. My mother stepping into the space he shapes before him just for her.”

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Egret Painting Bison

South Loop Review Vol. 16 (Spring 2015): essay

“At Altamira, Spain, fourteen-thousand-year-old bison pace the cave ceiling. The man below doesn’t see them. He is looking down, scanning the cave floor for small pieces of decorated bone and antler like the ones he’s seen at the Paris Exhibit of Stone Age Art. Perhaps if the archaeologists he’d met there had been talking about bison he would have known to look for them, too. But it is 1879. No cave art on this scale has yet been found.”

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Falling

Quarter After Eight Vol. 20 (Spring 2014) Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest finalist

“1970’s conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader is 27 when he dedicates himself to falling. His project is not metaphorical. He films himself—falling from a tree, a rooftop. From standing at rest. At 27 I am dedicating myself to holding on. I have a one-year-old. In eight months his father will leave, causing an equal and opposite reaction in myself. ‘I will never let you go,’ I whisper in my toddler’s ear.”

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What the Twig Wants

The Pinch Vol. 34, Issue 1 (Spring 2014): essay

“What the twig wants is to split open, step out of its skin. Its wanting is there in the way its bark knots at the joints, furrows like a river. There, where it would rather become the sea: A bird, wing tucked, broken but tough. Alligator rough. A baby bird with an alligator mouth, one round eye staring before takeoff.”

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The Dining Room Table

The Tampa Review Vol. 43/44: essay

“In 1936 my father almost went to medical school. Ten years later my mother almost became an opera singer. Together, in 1952, they almost bought a section of an unknown beach called Puerto Vallarta. In 1961 Dad put an end to almost. He sold the family funeral home and furniture store to buy land. And on the first day of his new life Grandma Antonia, who couldn’t understand why the son she’d raised to be a gentleman would want to shame her by getting his hands dirty, drove to the side of the field where he was working and shot herself in the head with a revolver.”

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Squeeze

The Tampa Review Vol. 43/44: essay

“It starts like this. Your first time dancing you’re clumsy, self- conscious. All corners and no center. You try to think your way through it, like a game of chess. But it’s a feeling game.

Close your eyes. The song they’re playing is in your hips, not your head. Feel the places where you’re solid. There, in your pelvis. There, where your partner’s one hand cups your shoulder blade and the other cradles your fingers, the rest of you disappearing into sound. Like flying.”

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