Poetry by Julia Laxer

In the Dream, I am Baptized

In the dream, I am baptized, and therefore can be held accountable.  I walk barefoot, with needles underground.  I am afraid to step on the needles and am embarrassed for not having shoes.  I am always very aware of not having shoes.  My teeth fall out, rotting like loose fish in my gums.  Incoming disasters, like teal tornadoes, hurricanes forming above water.  The elusion of everything.  Sometimes, my body shifts and I become a man, and I go around and experience everything differently.  But mostly I am a poor woman who needs new shoes and dental care.  Or I lie a lot, and am afraid of stepping beyond security.  Either way, in these haunted places, I never reach the confession booth.  Sometimes I am lucky and pet my cats one last time before the tsunami comes rushing in. I live in hotels, in dormitories, in my childhood home.  My ex-lovers come back to haunt me with violence; their faces are interchangeable and exist to confuse me.  Why are you here?  I ask.  I got rid of you a long time ago.  Then, I try to think of who I love. Who is he? Who sleeps beside me? And my cats sometimes swim in again, in the salty dark, and I pet their natty fur, pet their seal fur, pet bunny fur, pet their golden fur.  Night rambles on.  And, every so often, I awake like this: hand still warm on the cat, beside my pillow; suffering on the edge of sleep.

 

Julia Laxer received the Orlando Prize for Nonfiction, awarded by the A Room Of Her Own Foundation, for her essay, “Letter to My Sister in a Mental Hospital,” found in The Los Angeles Review. She published a memoir, “Girl Unreal” in the anthology, Prose & Lore, and poetry in Litro Magazine, Small Po[r]tions, The Nervous Breakdown and So to Speak: a feminist journal of language and art. She’s had nine lives; still counting...