Self-Analysis

I'd like to say my mind is a rose,
Blooming beautifully carefully crafted;
I would love to provide a Petrarchan ad
Touting my flowering elegance.

But it's not, I'm afraid. Sorry.

It's not well lit in here, so it might be
For all I know. Only two tiny windows.
I know what it produces, and it works well,
But it almost feels like an oxymoron

When I consider what it feels like.

In the half dark it is one long strand.
Winding around itself strangling
Squeezing pulsing throbbing vomiting
Something called poetry.


Elegy


I hope this body does not die prettily.
I hope I am wrung out of it,
like so many drops of dew
glittering in the dawn,
squeezed from a filthy rag
full of Holes and Derision.
I hope you burn it.
Do not give it away in parcels—
I would not give any of this soiled flesh
to any creature. Burn it. Burn
It.
It is not a temple full of song and light,
It is a cobwebbed crumbling ruin that must be escaped
à la Indiana Jones.
And yet, this Judas
is sacred to the Lord,
so I will concede one thing:
burn It, but afterwards,
take the gray remains
and bury them around a lilac bush.
That way, the useless It
may finally have no resemblance or memory
of Pain.


Stripe-Child


I’m fine.
No, really, I am.
Glance sideways as I sit in my wheelchair,
Don’t ask,
Just stare for a moment,
Then snap away
After looking long enough to see
That I am lazy.
Stare,
Don’t inquire
As you pass me by
In the grocery store.
Don’t be polite—
By all means,
Please shove ahead of my mother and I
And whisper,

Murmur,
Wonder—
But please, don’t trouble yourself
To ask.
I like to daydream
About what I would say
Should one of you,
You paragons,
You perfect, virtuous, beings of light—
Should one of you
Find it in your
Noble, precious hearts
To descend to my lowly
Transport chair
To inquire,
“You poor creature!
What has brought you so low?”
Or, perhaps you would
Be honest—
“You lazy
Hy-po-chondriac!
Get up!
Walk!”
(You are not Christ,
But you make a good effort.)
I like to fantasize
As my transport chair
Bumps across the parking lot,
A pothole
A dagger
A pebble
A knife

A crack in the sidewalk
A few more hours of strife
In the night
As I lie
Starting to cry
As every joint, each muscle
Spanning the width and length of me
Plaintively mourns,
Accepting their nightly
Torture
Grudgingly, as usual—
I wonder as I am only given
The little groceries to carry
And my dad
Hefts the large ones—
I wonder
As I see my strong sister
Deal with this pain
As she has
For so many years,
And my mother,
My wonderful mother.
Working herself beyond her limits,
Disregarding herself
Until she is beyond repair,
Then breaking down further
And further.
I wonder so much.
At night
As the bands of black and white
Constrict—
If you could see that one flaw,

That one single protein
In my DNA
That chose not to act properly—
If you could see the
Stripes of chains
That every day
Attempt to confine me to
Self pity and misery—
You would marvel at me
As I look at you
With a grin
And say,
“I’m fine.
No, really, I am.”


Burn


Saying that I am
“In a flare”
Is strange.
I am not a fire today,
A force to be reckoned with,
Bright frightening beautiful
I am what remains
After the bonfire gets put out
Out for the night
And the morning
And the afternoon
And the evening
And forever
Though sometimes I hallucinate
A remnant of warmth
Within these ashes,
But as soon as I reach out
To grab it before it runs away
It turns to ice under grasping fingers.
Saying “I'm in a flare”
Shouldn't mean emailing your teachers
Saying your body won't let you learn
Won't let you burn
You don't have permission
To go out and play today
Sorry, friends, my body says you can't
See me,
I need to carry out penance for existence,
Sorry for the inconvenience.
“I'm on fire” is what it should mean.

Body and soul finally agreeing on something
A bush burning, burning, never dying
Never drying out, never ending,
Always there and there and there
And there and there and there
And there and there and there and
My body is in a flare
I am coiled tightly into a shell
With gunpowder
That has been exposed to water
Extinguishing the fire
Before it even begins
I am expecting that I will burn
I will be light for those
Trapped in soul-consuming darkness
Fearing the bears
I will be light to those
Who want to know how it feels
To hold fire in their hands
I want to be fire in their hands
I am waiting waiting waiting
Never realizing
That I have been packed
In a dud
That will be tossed away
In favor of those that light.

 


ELIZABETH REAMES is a student at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, MI. She is currently studying English, History, and Theatre, and hopes to work in the museum industry while pursuing a Master's degree in Shakespeare and Performance, or Shakespeare Studies. Her previous poetry publications include individual poems in The Peacock Journal, Concordia University's arts journal In the Moment, and as part of the PoetryLeaves exhibition in Waterford Township, MI. She also has a short story forthcoming in Betty Fedora Magazine. She has a disability called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which is a connective tissue disorder which often causes chronic joint pain and health issues. These poems are from her chapbook Anatomy: A reckoning, which is an exploration of this element of her life, and her gradual coming-to-terms with it.

 

ELIZABETH REAMES IN CONVERSATION

 

 

Stagnant time is the enemy of my poetry. I write between sessions of experience, whether it be
classes, rehearsals, or even just going to the grocery store. So when I have to take a day and rest, I
end up writing prose—it's much easier to leave off when writing a short story than it is writing a
poem. Poems are moments to me; fiction is hours.

READ FULL CONVERSATION HERE