Image by Rita Kernn-Larsen (1904-1998), Danish surrealist painter
Wanda Deglane is a psychology/family & human development student at Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming on Dodging the Rain, Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, and elsewhere. She writes to survive. Wanda is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants, and lives with her giant family and beloved dog, Princess Leia, in Glendale, Arizona.”Vessel’ was previously published in Milk + Beans and “Self Portrait as Axolotl” appeared in Peculiars Magazine.
Self Portrait As Axolotl
Though I claw at my own skin with sharp claws,
level it like forests at the dawn of civilization,
I lie still and watch as the blood dams, the red
pales, the angry words carved into my flesh
soften and calm to whispers. For all the abuse
my skin has known, it grows back to me in
a jubilee of love, new and raw and pink,
the veins still pulsing beneath it. And when
they slice off pieces of my heart, tear into it
with bare, soiled hands to see what it’s made of,
it builds up like elastic, robbed and stretched
and burnt but coming back as if untouched.
And when I leave behind my limbs in cities where
they battered me endlessly, with the people who saw
my body not as a home but a dumping grounds,
I leave bruised, grieving, but always, always whole.
I keep telling my body it’s not worth
growing old for. I keep telling my body
that its cerebral passenger has had enough,
it’s too tired now, maybe later we can try again.
My body keeps telling me, get up, and when
I don’t listen, it takes over. My body picks itself up.
It takes a shower, lets the scalding hot water
wash over my continent of skin, until it is vermilion
and raw, until every flawed mountain is leveled
and what’s left is finally perfect. I keep telling my body to die
in its sleep, peaceful and tragic and painless,
but every morning without fail, it wakes once again
and drags itself out of bed when I protest. It looks
in the mirror though the day is hopeless, and traces
the dark circles under my eyes in a ghostly echo of love.
My body stands back when I lose control, watches
my raging destructive path and weeping howls, then
combs the rubble and picks up the shattered pieces
with gentle fingers. My body gently rocks me to sleep
when my fatigued mind refuses to shut down. It takes
the memories that haunt me and carefully sweeps them away
behind a wall of stone and forgetting, to never hurt me again.
And it kisses my mind good night, then goes away to sob
with worry and terror. I tell my body in the morning
that the pills aren’t working. I tell it that nothing can resuscitate
my mind anymore, it is far gone, a corpse rotting away in my skull,
and then I take the pills and stuff them all in my mouth.
But my body, my body, my blessed vessel, it gently spits
them out and swallows only one, it carries me back
to bed, says, You need rest. Just focus on healing. I’ll survive.