about the author

Tricia Louvar’s work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Vestal Review, ZYZZYVA, Brevity, Orion Online, Calyx, Bound Off, Word Riot, among other places. Midwest Literary Magazine/The Quiet Press and Dzanc Books have anthologized her work. Louvar lives with her family in California.

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The Measurement of Resting Potential

Tricia Louvar

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The woman never swore yet her mouth fell apart. Words became like bedsores that leaked absentmindedly in burning renditions inside plastic cups with rounded edges. Just a sip of water felt like the crust of earth had shattered under boots, and she hung by her neck along one slack utility line.

The tongue really deserves credit, despite resembling a female body builder—muscular, needy, and unattractive.

When doctors removed the cancer of tongue and throat her face became a cave, where the grandchildren shone a pen light inside at night while her mouth agape let in small breezes. They saw a lone fleshy stalactite to which the littlest one entered slow with his pointy finger and felt it go cold. He would become a trust fund child, with stipulations of medical school enrollment.

Twenty-three years later he watched dead toenails grow longer inside a Cambridge lab next to metal pails of drained fat, looking like prepackaged tapioca on aisle four. He marked his tablet and lodged a latexed finger among a corpse’s muscle fibers.

For a split second he strummed the inside of the man’s leg as if a bass guitar string where he imagined having a window to look out at hazy sunshine and playing music near the river. His fingers danced and he felt sun heat on his cheeks. He remembered a piece of chewing gum on the side of his cheek he had tucked away. His tongue retrieved it. Continued.

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