Teresa Leo
Narcissists Anonymous

A jackal among hedgehogs.  At the meeting,

N. looked around, not sure why him,


why he was forced to occupy a room

with these almost-but-not-quite paragons


of beauty, all magnificently groomed,

but whacked in a way he knew he was not.


And N. knew their grooming was the artifice

of grooming, the way some animals lick their paws clean


after stepping in shit.  But they visually appealed

and he didn’t mind looking at them,


one in particular, the more-and-better

of her elongated neck, the kind men sculpt statues


to immortalize, in the row before him.

When her neck moved, the woman’s shirt moved,


lifted to show the black line of a G-string

and the tip of an angel tattoo.  N. liked the way


the wing’s veins etched low on the woman’s hip,

the dark lines that arced in and out of view.


He liked imagining the tattoo’s complexity,

the pain it must have caused her,


and began thinking of ways he’d follow the neck,

from curve to hip, cast the angel earthward


before the night was through.  Then, N. got distracted

by the pristine condition of his own hands,


the length and width of his delicate fingers.

He thought of how the woman


would notice his hands first, the way all women did,

and how she’d be unable to stop herself


from thinking about what those fingers

would feel like inside her, which would force her


to shift in her seat, which would raise her shirt,

expose the G-string, and play in N.’s mind


like the opening of a sonata, which in turn would

thunderbolt down his torso to the back of his knees,


and, for a second, feel something like shame.

It passed.  The meeting broke.  The woman


stood and turned.  He was already thinking

of the beautiful and various ways he could leave her.

Found In Volume 35, No. 01
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Teresa Leo
About the Author

Teresa Leo is the author of two books of poetry, Bloom in Reverse (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014) and The Halo Rule (Elixir Press, 2008), winner of the Elixir Press Editors' Prize.

Her work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, New Orleans Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Painted Bride Quarterly, Xconnect and elsewhere.