About the Writer
Camille-Yvette Welsch is the author of the chapbook, FULL, and the book reviews editor for Literary Mama. Her work has appeared in Menacing Hedge, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, The Writer's Chronicle, Calyx, From the Fishouse, Radar Poetry, and other venues. In 2016, she earned a Pushcart nomination and her manuscript, The Four Ugliest Children in Christendom, was a finalist for the 2016 Washington Prize. She teaches at Penn State and lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
The Four Ugliest Children in Christendom Go To The Mall
The four ugliest children in Christendom do not
date, eat in public, gossip, talk on the phone, hang-out.
They breathe with their mouths open, wheezing
the soundtrack of their colossal lack. When the girl,
a ghost of laddered bones, goes to the make-up counter,
the stylist clutches a compact and wonders,
what am I to emphasize? She brushes layers
of foundation, trying to rebuild, but Rome
wasn’t built in a day, and the ugliest girl
in Christendom walks away looking beige, a little cracked,
her face a caked pumpkin on the white twig of her neck.
The twins, terrorize the toy store, gleeful
in their ability to repulse. They lurk around corners
then leap out, startling children once with their faces,
and twice when the masks don’t come off. Bored,
they play at being machines. Throats full of whistles,
theirs is a language of grinding. The oldest boy stands
in a bookshop, reading about religion, trying to understand—
if we are made in God’s image, what part can we possibly be?
The Ugliest Boy in Christendom Thinks About Asking His Sister to the Prom
I realize that she would stab me
with her crone finger, deflate
me and as I buzzed around the room,
she would watch my humiliation,
as she always does. This isn’t some
stupid sitcom, she’d say, people
don’t attend proms with their siblings.
Then, when I’m deflated on the floor,
she’d haul me out, pierced on her heel
and shake me loose on the lawn.
I’d just lie there, spent, nothing left
but to degrade, degrade, degrade.
The Ugliest Twins in Christendom
are a hinged gate, swung at the elbow.
They hang from the crook of the other’s
arm, never quite flailing away from each other.
Between them, a field of energy glows.
In the heat of their mouths, the twins
taste sour, metallic, and they can sniff
the air around them and grade
the fear of the average passer-by.
They wait for grade A terror before
they bring the gate of themselves
wide open, screaming, screeching
until their own ears hurt.
The oldest ugliest girl storms onto the porch,
shoes clicking, pace furious.
To quiet them, she pushes the two back
together until they scream into the open
mouth of the other. Thus, the twins
quiet each other, their mouths cocked
as if about to kiss, the breath between them
the most intimate talk they know.
The Ugliest Boy in Christendom Meditates
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.
I thought myself ugly,
heard it in every gasp,
saw it in every step
back. I believed
with my eyes. Now,
I think nothing
and become it,
a river’s mouth,
different at every moment
and think myself
the sum of beauty
and ugly, bone
and long muscle,
action and thought.
is better than something—
no exclusions, only
everything in the river
running by, pulsing
in the same direction.