My Gordian Knot

Rachel Hagerman

I know you look a bit like me— Long, stringy brown hair.

Small waist.

Ambitious green eyes.


Maybe you even have my dark eyebrows, straight teeth,

and crooked smile.


A touch of pink on the cheeks and tan in your arms.

An artistic freckle here and there.


Maybe you’re not a perfect image, but a resemblance just the same.



isn’t it perfection that you seek?


“Straight lines, rule books, rising to the top.”


You tie a slew of vague notions about a flawless self

in knots around my brain.


“Perfect   body,

Perfect mind. Always be best.”


You dance in graceful motions, anchor the rope.

Feet quietly kick my thoughts.


While your ideas entangle mine, my imprisoned brain begins to ask:

Should this Gordian Knot be undone?


“Straight lines, rule books,


rising to the top.



Perfect mind. Always be best.”


This rope you’ve created,

is it good?


This image I’ve created,

does it show me who I am?


You raise your pink cheeks,

and point your tan arms at me.


“Success, success,

this is your



But you are not my perfect reflection,

No—you simply show me who I want to be.


And, with tired green eyes and a shrinking waist,

I wonder if I still believe this lie.

Rachel Hagerman is studying English with a concentration in writing, rhetorics, and literacies at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. She currently works as a freelance writer, teaching assistant, Superstition Review editor-in-chief, and ASU Senior Writing Mentor. She is also the founding editor and editor-in-chief of the ASU student organization, The Spellbinding Shelf Book Bloggers. Passionate about literature, she plans to pursue a career in editing and publishing after graduation.