MY THERAPIST SAYS WHEN THERE'S TRAUMA, THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE
but it stores good things too: the mechanics of tying a shoelace, the hipfold of triangle pose, the slow building of an orgasm.
I’ve forgotten the rhyme, but my fingers remember: over, under, pull it tight and through, how to make a bow out of strings.
Even when the brain freezes, the body knows to survive: an infant instinctually swims if dropped in water, we hold our
breath at the smell of fire. The body’s smarter. Stubborn. It keeps a closet locked full of treasure: weeds and germs
we thought we plucked years ago and scrubbed away with clorox. I’m surprised by what it remembers, what it knows that I don’t.
At the Vegas club, it electrifies where I fold: at the scooping of a back against back, the running of a hand through hair,
the softness of a skin I’d never touched. It was ready when I wasn’t. It holds on where I let go.
AT THE PALOMINO CLUB
In the dark room, I want to ask for more - her skin soft as silk, I’ve melted uselessly into a puddle. I know you see me, my water face electrified and embarrassed. I am a good girl - or I was a good girl - and I’m acting out of sorts.
How do I recover from this? I touch her arms, her hair, her waist. There is glitter in my brain like a snow globe being shaken and I’m afraid it will break.
At home we’re swirling in it. We find traces of glitter in the carpet, specs on dinner plates, even pieces in our bed - we wake some mornings with translucent dots like freckles on our naked bodies. Let them stay, I say, let’s make a mess, sleep with the sheets falling off for a while or for a while longer. I wonder what love can survive - I hope it’s everything - and I clutch you and clutch you again in the morning dark.
MY THERAPIST ASSIGNS HOMEWORK
In the mirror, tasked to love myself - no, I reprimand, she said fall in love - I play a game of eye spy with my flaws. I spy with my little eye a new parenthesis of wrinkles, a double chin, my father’s witchy nose, my glasses perched on triangular stone. I want to watch it all smooth over how the ocean turns shells to sand, see instead an airbrushed photo of anybody else. If I squint, I spy the tiny hairs above my lips, sharp like blades of grass, my pores divets in the yard where flowers should have grown instead. I spy with my little eye a ribbon of loose mascara, an earring missing its back, the beginnings of something concerning growing on my right ear. When I was eight, my mother sat me in front of her bedroom mirror - a closet covered in panels of glass - and showed me each blackhead on my nose and chin. She dug at them between her fingernails, pushing out accumulated scum from the pits. I spy with my little eye a hole where something else might go, a mouth ready for new words to tumble out, eyes looking all about for home. If this is it, I’d like to redecorate, declutter a bit at the edges, throw some things in the trash. I spy with my little eye something green, rings around pupils, a golden highlight to my cheeks, a smile - just a smile - on the face of someone I might love in a new life.
ABOUT EMILY LAKE HANSEN
Emily Lake Hansen is the author of Home and other Duty Stations (Kelsay Books, forthcoming 2020) and the chapbook The Way the Body Had to Travel (dancing girl press, 2014). Her poetry has appeared in Atticus Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Rust + Moth, Midway Journal, and SWWIM Every Day among others. She is a Phd student at Georgia State University and serves as the poetry editor for Minerva Rising Press.