Carol Guess & Aimee Parkison



Rain, and the same skull-white clouds [2] clouding over, tightening around me, squeezing me, spitting me out drop by drop [3]. Something about the rain, he says [4]. When it rains, locks click [5]. I'm alone for days [6]. Bucket to pee in and piles of candy, bottled water, magazines. Something about the rain would ruin me [7], he says, so when clouds gather the hairs on my neck stand up [8]. I know he'll rush out and shove me back into the cloud he made to protect me from rain. [9]





  1. When it rains, her captor smokes a hookah and she stares through smoke, a cloud.
  2. Behind the cloud of hookah smoke are skulls inside crumbling walls, remains of girls who were in the cloud before her.
  3. Rain dampens the walls, the makeshift room built around skulls so that the walls start to disintegrate in the damp hookah cloud.
  4. He can't quit talking about rain, afraid the walls will rot and fall through the water locks.
  5. A water lock is an enclosed, rectangular chamber with gates at each end. Water is raised or lowered to allow captive girls to overcome differences in water level as the basement floods. These water locks were sold as black-market antiques, stolen from the Panama Canal. Clicking open and closed in the rain, they are a game of staircase locks. The girl never knows when a lock will open onto another cloud. The smoke changes flavor from cherry to vanilla to apple to grape to chocolate to mocha or honeydew, but each cloud contains a different hookah-smoking captor.
  6. Hookah smoking is typically done in groups, with the same mouthpiece passed from person to person, until the cloud dissipates like mist over a river with old water locks.
  7. Babies born to hookah smokers are at increased risk for respiratory diseases.
  8. She keeps looking at the walls. She doesn't want to. But like the other girls who have gone into the walls after staring through the clouds, she can't help herself.
  9. Hookah is also called narghile, argileh, shisha, hubble-bubble, and goza. These are the names he has given each of the girls who have lived in his clouds. This girl is Goza.  The ones in the wall are Shisha, Argileh, and Narghile. Hubble-Bubble is waiting in the glass case, where the clouds can't reach her.





This piece is from a collaborative book-in-progress, a work of experimental poetic fiction about women and girls in confinement, whose working title is Zoochosis. Here's a link to an article by PETA, ["Zoos: An Idea Whose Time Has Come and Gone"], referencing the condition of zoochosis among animals in confinement. Our creative theory for the book-in-progress is that women in today's society are confined by pop culture, politics, and criminal elements so that women/girls often exhibit psychological symptoms of zoochosis, both consciously and subconsciously.