Madeleine De Pree- “A Formative Experience”

Your Face as a Series of Unbroken Rows

I have a hard-boiled image of you. Standing amongst pews and pews and pews in your red-and-blue sneakers and your white t-shirt with the ragged hem. With me in blue polka dots. With music playing.

You looked across the room at me and smiled. I remember this. We were fifteen.


Activities in The God Room

We had sex for the first time on a fold-out couch. Your moms’ dog slept soundly at the foot of it, bobbing around from the motion. This couch was in an unused front room, a large one with bookshelves and white curtains. For some reason, your mothers called it The God Room. I never learned why.

Halfway through, you became tired and asked if we could stop. So we put on our clothes and watched The Office.

The following morning, your dog had to be put down. This was not our fault. She was old.



In time, you grew your hair long in the front. A golden puff. A fluffy mass that jutted over your brow like a chrysanthemum. I often ran my fingers through this puff. And I grew to love you. To love the puff by association.

Privately, everyone wanted you to clip the puff. To fix your hair into a more reasonable tumble.

You did not clip the puff. But you kept the sides short to appease your mothers.


Real Farm Men

At some point, one of our hens got an egg stuck in her cloaca. Egg-bound. Unable to lay without shattering the lodged egg. Hers would be a painful death. So my dad gently removed her from the coop and cried. He whispered a prayer to the hen before snapping her neck in his hands.

When I told you this, you said you admired him. My stepmom agreed. She said he was a real farm man.


Ground-Floor Sleep

Some nights you snuck me into your mothers’ house. The following mornings, I would shimmy through the window and walk to the coffee shop, where you would meet me for breakfast. I once made eye contact with your neighbor during my escape. She saw my brown boots and my messy hair and she laughed. I think of this from time to time. It was late June.


Light Through Leaves

You watched my eyelids closely that summer. When I laid my head in your lap, you traced the shadows of the sun on my face and you sighed. You often asked what I was thinking about. But I never gave you an answer.

I was thinking about expiration. The letter A. I have always liked sleeping alone.


Madeleine De Pree is an undergraduate student at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Her work has appeared in eight different publications, including The Austin Chronicle and South Carolina’s Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology. Her chapbook, “Plastic Bullet,” is currently available for purchase through Zoetic Press.