Mud by Emily Laubham

Mud

There is an enemy inside who willingly starves.
Delicate energy.
For that enemy, it’s always too much.
But it’s enough to keep your teeth clamped, lips curled.
Enough to make your heart beat blood.
Enough to make your feet shuffle, mind pulse.
Food.
Not enough.
Food.
Not nearly enough to survive.

You are a girl.
Isn’t beauty your birthright?
Isn’t hunger your friend?

Pour red wine into measuring cups.
Calculate the price you’ll pay for one more quarter.
Barter with your conscience and promise to be less.
The wine makes your head spin like children
Who haven’t yet learned that beauty is anything more than mud,
Scraped knees or low-limbed trees.
You sway.
One more quarter cup.
Head between knees. One more. One more.
You drift and jolt, spilling red on the carpet.
I’m wasting, you think, rubbing it in with your heel,
I’m wasting away.

A life of comparison.
Tear every girl apart.
Gashes, severed limbs, and surgery.
Maybe then.
Maybe when the stitches heal there’d be one.
An acceptable collection of bones.
What other purpose do you have?
Than to draw all eyes and appease an appetite?

A lifetime of counting.
The rib bones and decimals and sidelong glances.
The times you’ve had your shoulder squeezed – looks aren’t everything.
But they are more than kind eyes, strong arms, or steady heads and hearts.
You are dwindling.
On the edge of existing.
Telling yourself, to be less is to win.
A looking glass replica telling you,
You can do this forever.

But I’m telling you now, let go.
Beauty is already yours.
It’s beneath your nails like mud.

by Emily Laubham

Emily on Facebook
Twitter: @Laubham

Editor’s Note: The rambling, conversational imagery of this poem draws the reader into the narrator’s inner landscape. The struggle against beauty norms is ongoing and difficult.

Paleontology by Emily Laubham

Paleontology

The grass took it all back.
Simply sprung up when I wasn’t looking.
Five years ago, maybe six,
The dog walked that path till the grass gave up.
Brown and raw, covered in divots and a doghouse.
But that’s gone.
Lost in dandelions and yellow-tinted grass.

Now I understand it.
Paleontology.
To dig through the earth and find a trace of childhood
Would warrant being on hands and knees,
Looking down in fascination at the hint of a dog
And the fossils of a day in late July.

by Emily Laubham

Emily on Facebook
Twitter: @Laubham

Editor’s Note: Careful repetition of imagery builds the narrator’s understanding of the relentless nature of change, aging, and memory within this poem.

Idiot Hearts by Emily Laubham

Idiot Hearts

I rest on jagged pillows, rock beds by a dirty river.
I’m inclined to sleep through footsteps from the floor below.
A canary beats its wings bloody on a ribbed cage.
Still half awake, your fingers fall like crazy rain.
A telephone pole gets struck so hard it screams.
Light splits and crackles underneath my eyes.
Your spider-lashes crawl up my neck, catching freckle-flies.
A whisper climbs from your mouth and tiptoes in my ear
Latching to left and right hemispheres,
Laying eggs that won’t hatch for days.

I get caught in your undertow, a slave to the current.
I melt into the ocean and get thrashed against the shore,
somehow more solid than before.
You are sand in my teeth.
You are sand in my eyes.
But suddenly,
your face is tired and fair.
Out of your throat, a sigh.
I settle into your crooked stick of a body.
Like moss or mold, I grow there.
And they’re beautiful,
These idiot hearts.

by Emily Laubham

Emily on Facebook
Twitter: @Laubham

Editor’s Note: In this poem, gritty imagery firmly sets the concept of love in reality, even as surrealism takes hold within the lines, much like the current in a river.