The Witch

I used to carry a witch in my womb –
a tiny sorceress who plucked daisies from my ovaries
and scratched spells in the spongy flesh walls.
She used to sing incantations that laid a welcome mat for you.
She used to.

I’m not sure when she broke free –
somewhere between the doctor removing procreation’s highways
and you pushing my knees apart as I howled a funeral chorus.

I hide her now between my thighs,
tucked tight to my body.
And every time you breathe near her,
you light the flames at her stake
and she screams.
And she screams.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Float

I felt the shift as a rope frays and breaks.
I floated up,
off the couch –
a satellite with flashing, shiny lights
blinking on and off.
I was one whole, great woman,
large as a hot air balloon.
I drank in wild air,
felt my lungs expand and push against my ribs.
I held my breath
and stared back down at you –
tiny you.
Alone, you.
I waited for my heart to regress.
I waited for the pain to bite behind my teeth,
catch the air in my throat,
burst through my chest,
but it never came
and I breathed freely.
I watched the sunrise over the curve of the world
and even in morning’s newest light
you were still you,
and I was more.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for your prompt.

Trauma Doesn’t Dress in Neon

Trauma doesn’t dress in neon.
It doesn’t light up bright as a sunrise
and stand screeching with a megaphone in the street.
Trauma asks for a reservation,
parks at the cradle base of your skull,
and traces soft fingertips across the love lines on your palm.
Trauma is the sound of a drill skidding as a screw strips.
It is a soapy aftertaste in your mouth.
It is the silver halo of light from a TV as your child clings to your neck in their sleep.
It hovers,
bumble bee drone
in your ear.
Trauma is a lace skirt getting caught on every cabinet knob in the house
and dragging you to a halt.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you MindLoveMisery for your prompt.

Sing

I have been fired in an oven,
crafted by negligent hands.
I’ve been set on the edge of the mantle,
poised as if my one dangling foot was ready to leap,
pirouette across the floor and stretch –
long limbed pale dance in the mirror.

I am everything at once,
all hands and lips and breath
tracing the soft curves and flat planes.

I am alone,
back arched into the mattress,
searching for a wind chime between my thighs,
rubbing a thumb across the tangle of nerve wire
until the edge of the vase fills, opens,
sings.

Shatters.
Falls.
Breaks.
And sings, and sings, and sings.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

I Could

I could take my inhibitions,
push them under my tongue as hard, sweet candy.
I could feel the lump of my morals crack and melt across my lips,
glide down my throat as a prayer.
I could close my eyes and let my lashes be a thousand little hands,
soft against my cheek.
I could see you as an intermittent shadow
blinking through the luminescence behind my lids.
I could pull the sheet from my bed and let it drape bare across me,
a whisper of your weight.
I could stencil in your hands on the canvas of my skin,
at my throat, my thigh, the soft inside of my hip.
I could pull myself from this little comfort zone I’ve made
and fall sodden to my knees before you.
I could.
I could.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Running Water

Our daughter collects boxes.
Big boxes.
Small boxes.
Boxes with purple lids that pop off
or snap open on old brass hinges.
Boxes with black velvet on the sides
and pale blonde ribbons around the top.
Boxes with soft cotton inside
and holes pierced through the lids.
Boxes in pieces,
scattered like cardboard confetti
and poking through the carpet into my toes.

She isn’t here today,
so I’m searching her room for a very specific box.
I’m on my hands and knees
pulling them out from the darkness under her bed.
I’m laying them out on the floor
where I can slip in a single toe,
just to see if I fit.

I need a box I can get inside of.
Something as easy to slip into as the waves at the ocean.
I have asked you to carry me,
to pick me up, hold me close,
but you might as well be trying to embrace running water.
You’re holding me in a sieve and I’m clinging to the sides.
I am too much for your hands.
The carpet is soaked around your feet,
it squishes between your toes
and I see a look of disgust pass over your face.
I could turn down the volume.
I could twist the tap and pull myself back until I’m only a few little drops
and then you could catch me in your hands like you used to do.
You could hold me against your palms
and I’d fit.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for their prompt.

Clothesline

I have an informal set of virtues.
I turn them inside out and wash resilient grass stains from the knees.
I wring them in my hands until they sing beautiful girl songs
and I hang them wet and backwards from the line by my window.
I attach them to the wind with a tack and I lay beneath them,
let the water drip along the downfall of my left cheekbone,
let the smell of pressed funeral flowers and beard oil peel back the smile from my lips.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Another thanks to MindLoveMisery for their prompt.

Burn Out

My mind is fragile live wires
exploding and raining sparks
in pretty golden cartwheels
that crash onto the floor
and scatter as sugar
underneath the bed.

And here
I am…
just pulling the covers up to my chin
and letting the lights burn out.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for their prompt.

Ants

I must have been a sight to see,
there in the bathroom shower
water sifting around my toes
and swirling in a flaccid current around a clogged drain,
face peeling like the bark of an old Birch tree
to reveal the Queen of Hearts
in all her vulgar, red-faced fury.
I must have been amazing for just
a few
moments.

I gathered power behind my teeth
and dispersed an entire generation with my breath.
I watched,
with indifferent eye
as confusion set in,
tiny legs scattered to avoid
the corpses floating down the drain.
I must have been in my element.
Fight or
fight or
fight.

But my anger is a smoke screen,
an alluring deception.
It is layer after layer of oil paint,
that’s never been given the time to cure.
It is loose and wet and it breaks and runs
and runs
and runs.

It scatters as ants on my bathroom windowsill.
It sends me flying down the stairs,
knocking my hip on the wall
as I harness my damp skin in whatever the closest piece of cloth is,
because I have to leave right now;
right this minute.
Now.

And I will spend an hour walking my dog through the neighborhood.
I will seek movement as a balm for the severity of my anger.
I will make predications and sort the meaning of my choices
like I’m scrying our future out of cracks in the concrete.
I will throw off sleep and sanity like an abandoned shoe.
I will hear my breath as a labored love song
and I will hesitate in the comfort that is my mourning melody.
I will make earnest excuses for tiring behavior
and I will push ahead, through the foliage,
around the next corner,
a block to the right,
until I can’t see the lights in my upstairs window,
until there is a sunrise in my soul and I am so awake I cannot see the ghost of us
in tiny skittering legs on my bathroom windowsill.

 

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


As always, thank you to MindLoveMisery. I used a number of your posts this time. You have been choosing some wonderful words for me. You may see the posts here, here, and here.

I Won’t Name This Thing

When I was 17 I brought home a puppy.
It was black and brown, with a small purple tongue.
It was squirming around and I held it,
with all that I had.
I held it with two hands and called it mine.

But you told me not to name it.
If you name it, you’ll keep it.
If you name it, you’ll make a bed for it.
If you name it, it’s home,
and it’s awfully hard to get rid of something with a name.

You drove me to an empty parking lot.
There was a crate under a streetlamp, a small bowl of water inside.
A safe haven for the unwanted.
But I cried when I put him in.
I cried when we drove off.
I cried, because I wanted that damn puppy
and his name was Rocky.

I learned that lesson well.
I held on to it,
tucked it back behind my rib cage,
right near my spine
so when I think about it hard enough
I get a single sharp pain right down my sciatic nerve.
A literal pain in the ass,
that’s memory .

That’s why I won’t name this thing.
This you.
This me.
When my therapist says, “Call it what it is.”
I tell her it’s a new found species.
Some undefined thing,
never before seen in the wild,
and I’ve got it almost tamed, I laugh.
Right here at my dining room table,
in my shower,
on top of me in bed.

I’m not naming this thing.
I don’t want hard to hold on to.
I don’t want another wedge jammed against my spine.
I have no room inside for this thing we’ve created.
These broken words.
This broken bed.
This you.
This me.
I’m not making it a home here.
I won’t name this thing.

©️ Laura A. Lord, 2020

 

Unwilling

You scaled me like a rigid, unyielding mountaintop
and you slipped through honey nectar words
that pooled in my head.
I wiggle a finger in my ear and make the world shake.
Your words stick to the grief track circling my ear drum –
hungry tentacle lullaby.

I lay back and stare at the ceiling.
There,
in the far corner –
a stain the color of sweet tea
has spread into the shape of Australia,
an eerie match for your birth mark.
So I force focus over your shoulder
and see the edge of your ribcage in our ceiling.
I’m looking for the you I used to know –
feather flight traces blow in the barest gap
between our flesh.

And I only feel you now
when you aren’t touching me.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for the prompt.