Tough Stain ||| The Rubbertop Review

A tea stain can be removed, I’ve heard, by pouring boiling water from three feet up. This is how rivers began, with a sound like infamy, like bantam waves in a backyard canal. I am not safe for fabrics. I am bathing with your stain of coal frost and dawn. I’m buying it tickets to the ocean, where the boiling water cools. What is my iris if not the sorrel stain of conception? Pour three waters, boiling feet up? Force and heat make a stain change its mind. We’ve always been too clean. I wish I could tip your fevered rain from the best balcony through the toughest stain of the century.
Jen Hirt is the author of the memoir Under Glass: The Girl with a Thousand Christmas Trees, the poetry chapbook Too Many Questions About Strawberries, and she has co-edited two creative nonfiction anthologies, Creating Nonfiction: Twenty Essays and Interviews with the Writers and Kept Secret: The Half-Truth in Nonfiction. She is an associate professor of creative writing at Penn State Harrisburg, where she is also the chair of the English program. Originally from Valley City, Ohio, she now lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Find out more about her at
“Tough Stain” appeared in volume 4 of The Rubbertop Review: Ohio Connections issue, published in 2012.