ELIZABETH DEANNA MORRIS LAKES / 5 POEMS
THE WOLF ATTEMPTS TO EXPLAIN HIMSELF
i just want this all to stop now to go away ashley.
the feeling that saturates my skin at night
like my skeleton is pulling away from my flesh. just
like it’s new and implanted but rejecting my body.
an infection. i want to be whole and composed to last
through the night without shoving my hand in the hot water
or numbing my face with ice. the water
running down my neck. how do i stop this ashley?
my hands are full of static i can’t squeeze out. the last
thing i want is to find you in my dreams tonight
and crack open your ribs and rid your body
of its organs. is it so unreasonable to want a justice
for myself? a new ending where i justify
i'm not a wolf inevitable. finding you in the water
of the river and holding you down your body
putting up a fight because that’s human ashley.
it’s human to fight against what we want at night
when the exhaustion wears through the last
set of reserve and control. i wonder when my last
guard will shatter and i'll become just
less than human. the other. unrecognizable at night
and willing to be held in straits beneath the water
until i can no longer breath. it’s so easy ashley
for them to see you as less than a body
and certainly not a soul. they won’t see my body
full of electricity and my hands in fists trying to last
against the jerking muscles and teeth bitten on my tongue. ashley
you know i never want to hurt you in the dreams i just
lose myself when covered in fur. i'd rather bathe you in water
cool and blessed. i'd rather find you like a lover in the night
and curl at your feet. a good dog. and in this tender night
we’d know though our dreams might be bad our bodies
would be still. i'd wash you clean with river water
in the morning and our restfulness would last
through the day. but if i get too close i might just
forget these hands are mine ashley.
ashley, will either of us make it through the night just long enough
to see sun’s body rise one last time over the river’s sparkling water?
ASHLEY SUGARNOTCH FEELS AWFUL
It’s inappropriate to take naps at my desk. That’s what my boss told me. I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I’ve searched the hell out of what to do. I cover all electric lights. I breathe in 8-counts. I soak lavender buds in hot water and sip the resulting tea as I read a light article on gardening or cooking—nothing apt to turn the knob on my adrenaline or heartbeat. Still, I lie and wait. Even through the pulled curtains, lights from pacing cars race by like fingers pushing across the ceiling. At three, when the cars calm down and even the crickets and cicadas begin to hush, I go outside. I walk, I walk in the grass, along the sidewalk, along the road. I walk until the stars begin to blur as my eyes water, until my legs tingle with their understanding of gravity. By now, it’s five o’clock in the morning. My body will know nothing but rest. I make my way inside and fall onto the floor. I sleep. And immediately I dream of the rotting forest, the bald dirt hills, the pile of bricks where a house used to be. I don’t even bother to run anymore. I sink, maybe hoping to fall asleep here, too, to wake up in some slightly calmer, slightly less decayed dreamscape. But I don’t. The wolf comes, sometimes more dirt than fur. With delicate teeth, he bites my shoulder and pulls back the skin. The pain feels like electricity, both hot and cold and muscles jerking alive and wholly thickly dead.And so the wolf undresses me, one layer at a time, until I gasp and find myself with no lungs. And when I try again, my lungs fill; I am in the living room, crumpled on the carpet, itchy with sweat. What is one to do when left with pain like that? At the café near me, they have a drink called the Shakey. It’s not on the menu anymore, but I started ordering it. Six shots of espresso, topped off with dark roasted coffee. My muscles vibrate after these, alive and shuddering in some way that is separate from myself. But then, they move, then they find their way to my desk, my work, the emails and meetings. But the wolf, I feel him waiting beneath the surface, waiting to strip me into pieces and call me his.
THE WOLF WAS THE RUNNER
i fall asleep
sometimes and an
my ears as if
i were in the
middle of the
my ear canals.
when i awake
the sound is left
your skull want to
jump out of your
head ashley? i
have been slamming
my head against
the door jamb at
night to sleep. it
helps. my hair can
cover up the
bruises. i found
you in the woods
last night ashley.
you had let the
tree’s roots grow in-
to your organs
a vine crowned your
head. “now you can
you told me. you
creaked open your
chest and the wind
mills were gone. now
crawled over your
redwhite bones. i
wrestled out your
heart. it flaked to
bits in my fingers.
THE WOLF: A SHADOW MANIFESTED
i died on a ship
last night in my dream.
the ship had sunk i
was in the only unsunk room
suppose then i didn’t
actually die last night.
i had knowledge
of the end. aren’t i already
i'll slip. feel your life draining
over my hands. i
am waiting in the shadows
or rather i am
shadow waiting to transform
to action or mass.
do i fail
at being human?
or by fighting myself am
i more a human
after all? i know this sounds
so rational ashley.
i can be rational when
you aren’t near.
if i die who wins? i know
you do not want this
ashley but that doesn’t mean
someone else wouldn’t
find you. i'm not just any shadow.
i'm yours. i'm beside
you in darkness but even
more so in the light.
ASHLEY SUGARNOTCH KNOWS YOUR NUMBER AT 2 IN THE MORNING
I wonder what it feels like to be a daughter to a father. I want to say it feels like being a daughter to a mother, but I’m not sure. I know being a daughter with no father feels like the walks I take at night in winter. I want to believe that the silence cuts deeper than the cold. Having a mother felt like having a second self, a second set of answers to my questions. This is supposed to be the same but it’s not. It’s not. These losses have left, not vacancies, but this: the rocks in the riverbed are sharp against my feet; the road is wider and harder to cross, like you just can’t walk across fast enough; sun glare leaves phosphenes longer in my eyes, not blinded, but obstructed. Being a daughter to a mother turns my blood to stone. Being a daughter to a father whitewashes me in adrenaline. I will walk for hours.
Elizabeth Deanna Morris Lakes was born in Harrisburg, PA and has a bachelor of arts in creative writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Cartridge Lit, Crab Fat Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, and cahoodaloodaling. Her chapbook, Patterning, was published by Corgi Snorkel Press.