Back to Issue Eight.

Renovation in the St. Cecelia School Gymnasium



For weeks,
the wet paint scent
our white necks.

We undressed
in the science labs,

our locker room
in a kind of ruin
only women can do—

our damp lace on the floor
for the longest of days

and the men
afraid to go near it
it seemed. Rosetta left

the fogged up
crucifix necklace

her mother bought her
when she began to bleed
and so we

knew that it was in there, pure
gold under the tile for a year;

it glared out at
the razorblade
that I offered.

This is no accident.
The men wading
through the dust

of the red tiles
and the brown tiles

and the versions of ourselves
that we left
for the men to repair.


Lauren Berry received a B.A. in creative writing from Florida State University and an MFA from the University of Houston, where she won the Inprint Verlaine Prize and served as poetry editor for Gulf Coast. From 2009 to 2010 she held the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute. Her first collection of poems, The Lifting Dress, was selected by Terrance Hayes to win the National Poetry Series and was released by Penguin in 2011.  She currently lives in Houston where she teaches AP English Language for YES Prep Public Schools, a charter school whose mission is to transform the low-income communities of Houston through college-preparatory education and community service.

More from Lauren Berry: 
How to Take Your Medicine During a Recession,” Issue Eight, Poetry