Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty
Winter 2012
 
I DREAMT OF DEATH, OR WAKING
Erin Miller

I’m in the backseat, the girl who caught fire
in front–charred skin, blue eyes.
The large man drives, tells her to shoot
me at the stop sign.
A gunshot.
A slight thrum, like a finger, on the forehead.
No pain, no tangles of death, just angry quiet.

She forces me out in the road, touches the barrel
between my eyes, says,
“Now. You’re going to die,” and pulls the trigger.
This time: a reaction, a force so strong
it knocks me down.

*

In the bathroom mirror, I blur.
My skin blooms like a flower
growing too early.
Cartilage juts out of my left ear.
One of my bottom canines reaches upward
toward the soft, pink flesh of my gums.

My body crowds the room,
heavy on the walls,
and just as quickly, shrinks back down,
now strange and small.

*

Bodies surround me in a large room–
I hope they don’t notice I’m not myself today.
Words congeal together and into each other,
their sleekness replaced with a thick,
sticky paste, painful in the mouth.
I can no longer hide my distortion.

I tell them, finally, through numbed lips–
“I’m dying.”

They sigh, say I only want the attention.
Necks swivel to study distant faces.

I wait for the worried foreheads, the car to the hospital.
I tell them, “I’m dying, I’m dying.”

The bones in their spines crackle.
Their forms remain the same.
“We have somewhere to be,” they say.
They say, “You’ll be fine.”

I tell them, “The minutes here don’t smell right.
If I close my eyes, there will be nothing left.”
I tell them, “I’m tired, but I can’t sleep.
My eyes are disappearing.”

They say, “You can’t rush us.”
They say, “We have plenty of time.
The minutes are fine.
Your eyes are fine.”
They say, “Be patient,”
and their arms fall, limp on their sides.
They roll their eyes like tires.

About Erin Miller

Previous Poem | Next Poem