When I create the account to pay off my college loans,
one step of the process directs me to choose an image
that mirrors my identity, so whenever I log in
the Internet will show me myself: spiral-shaped
shell like our infinite nature. Wooden ship.
Guy in a top hat because every now and then
we should get a little classy. Four pages of this.
Racecars and power drills side by side. Dog jumping
a fence. Piano with the lid propped open like a skull flap
during brain surgery. Showgirl. Soldier. Seahorse. Sunset. DaVinci’s
Vitruvian man in between the plastic pink face of a Ken Doll
and a stapler. I know a white guy made this list too
because the woman in the third row wearing red lipstick
is simply labeled "Woman," whereas the "Scholar" is a white man
in glasses. Moments, too, I think an existential crisis
could occur—the cartoon hand pointing to a clock
in the next box; white glaze of an eyeball; bridge connecting Liberty
with Butterflies. How could I choose just one?
Am I not the exoskeleton of a Beetle, the sour face of a Frog?
I want to be half-Rooster, half-Waterfall. One-third Rubber Duck,
two-thirds box of Crayons. I know my mother would pick the box
with Cake, but me—I don’t know. Mornings I’ve preferred the red flash
of a Cardinal on grey sky, others the shining silver arms
of Wrenches. Yesterday I bought a Knitted Hat.
I could pick the Waltz or a Boxing Match but before I choose the skull
and crossbones of a Pirate Flag, because I reason Death is like
the one true thing, the buttons linking to the previous and next pages
freeze, so I’m left with Michelangelo, Mona Lisa, the seahorse,
or Barbie’s BFFL (Boyfriend for Life). I almost choose him
as an ironic nod to consumer culture
but instead click the black and white drawing of a girl waving
a feathered fan on her chest like a pharaoh or flapper. I can label it
whatever I want, so I write out the word "Loanzzzz" with four z’s
like I’ve fallen asleep at the end of the alphabet
and hit "Complete" where I’m taken to a screen that says
my next payment will be due in twenty-nine days.
MARGARET GRABER is a writer and poet originally from Northwest Indiana. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and has been the recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Luminarts Cultural Foundation and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Louisville Review, Jet Fuel Review, Duende, and the Button Poetry blog, among others. She currently lives and works on the Cahaba River in Alabama.