Nonfiction by Melissa Lewis-Ackerman

savasanaLeaving the mat. Floating upward. Leaving the low deep breathing sounds filling the room. My bottled water. Leaving sunlight through broad windows. The throaty voice of instruction. My final downward-facing dog. Leaving towels that dry sweating brows. The smell of heat on spent skin. My block and bolster. Leaving colors. The dew-like feel of a bamboo floor.  Leaving achy muscles. Euphoric stretches. The man in front of me who pulls off his shirt like we’re in a room alone.

Leaving voices in my head from early youth. The sadness I lived trapped in during childhood. My violent, mentally ill, Cherokee mother. A ratty green blanket on my bare skin. Angry, cheap, brown wall paneling. Flashes of light and dark when you’re not supposed to see anything. Small closets, like cathedrals. My doll, Gretchen. Leaving the smell of my own fear as my insides grew hot with truth. My mother’s uninteresting lovers. My own mind before it was open.

Leaving all I knew. Finally. Mother’s old-world shouts. How I wouldn’t secure a future with my underdeveloped body. Her hatred of my tormented eyes. The way I couldn’t be what she was. Leaving the pain of discovering I’d always be different. Peers who wouldn’t come near me in high school. The taint. That final flight away from home in my thirties.

Leaving husbands who would not see me. Who wanted to be witnessed, but never a witness. Who always cried, too late.

Leaving children who knew me by default. Their hands. Their voices. Their OCD. Their ADD. Leaving the inner workings of the only two souls I ever really took an interest in knowing. Leaving parties I’d thrown in honor of their lives. But never in honor of my own. Leaving Costumes. Developed customs. The insistence on their perfect lives. The degrees I forced upon them. Leaving the way they smiled at me, safe in the belief that I had all the answers, even if the answer was that we all would die.

Leaving coffee shops. Books. The men I knew. By choice. Hating my own gender because my mother taught me that women were bad. Leaving losses, like Maya. My white teacup Pomeranian. The illusion. Quacking instead of barking. Following me from room to room. Leaving a heart full of nothing but the highest manifestation of love. Left in pieces.

Leaving highways. Airplanes landing. Sharp deliberate steps on concrete. The sound of glass shattering. Thick August grass. The sea.

And, the distinct feeling that I should have been doing something different with every single day of my life.


Leaving myself. The sand I’ve known, slipping through my fingers. Leaving the clock. Time. How it haunted me. Leaving the way someone looked at me once. Their pain from across a room. What I thought of love. When I felt I had it.

“Now,” says the throaty voice of instruction. “Your eyes will remain closed. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Slowly stretch your arms above your head. Come onto your right side. Ease yourself up to a seated position at the front of your matt. Bringing your hands to heart’s center.”

I ease myself up to seated, bringing my hands to heart’s center, but I keep my eyes open. I watch the man in front of me put his shirt back on. Today I’ll give him my number.


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About Melissa Lewis-Ackerman

Melissa Lewis-Ackerman is a bi-coastal English Professor, dividing time between LA and New York. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Melissa has published Letter To New York, Crab Fat Magazine (January 2017); The Jew Who Loved Me, Claudius Speaks, "Buried" (January 2017), White Light, Flights (Fall 2015), Seventy, DUENDE (Fall 2015), and Clock Towers, BOOMTOWN, Explosive Writing From Ten Years Of The Queens University of Charlotte MFA Program.

Melissa Lewis-Ackerman

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