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Puberty’s Monologue

Posted Aug 02 2010 6:26pm

a poem by Lauren Schmidt

At some point in my sleep last night,
three scabbed avatars approached me with a filet
of skin, holding it like a coat, coaxed my slither into it.
My sock-inside-out body-bones and blood,

muscles, tendons, organs, guts-were comfortable
like extreme freezing: so cold the mind’s
confused, misfires burning instead. I thought best
to listen to the witches, slipped into this rag

of skin, my ragdoll next-of-kin. They zipped me in,
sprinkled me with rosemary, fireflies, and thyme,
blew my eyes shut until twilight. I woke swatting
at the batwings of bad dreams gasping What do you mean

this is not the last I’ll do this?  Which brings me to now.
Slouched on my bed, my hands like frenzied fish, slither
down my legs, my knee pumps in a race with the wings of bees.
For now, this is my posture: head, neck, shoulders bent

intro a bow whose looks sling with arrows. My face
flagged with the only thing I hold in myself: the time
my neighbor caught my legs in a handstand,
without intention, pulled my pants down as I crashed,

flat-backed to the ground. He looked at the tight bud
between my legs the way we inspected that wasp nest
before we ran screaming. The swarm inside me is all I hear

in my head, the arias of just-with-blood mothers,
laden with woman’s honey. Babies bunched tightly
in their wombs wait for breath, the first jab of light
that stings them to existence. There’s a girl coiled inside me,

I know. Trapped in the dark thatch between my legs,
pinned like a butterfly in the wingspan of hips.
She doesn’t remember who she is. But I feel her
throb: an open bone, a leaky, bloody breast.

Lauren Schmidt’s work may be found or is forthcoming in The Progressive, New York Quarterly, Rattle, Nimrod, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Ruminate, Ekphrasis Journal, Wicked Alice and others. Her poems have been selected as finalists for the 2008 and 2009 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, the 2009 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and her poem “Once Upon an Emergency Exit Row” was awarded first place in the 2009 So to Speak Poetry Prize named for a journal out of George Mason University. In December 2009, Lauren’s poetry was nominated for the AWP Intro to Journals Project as well.

Tania, our poetry editor, has published an interview with Lauren on her She Writes blog.

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