Two Months After
I ask my mother how she lived through Reagan, forever fearing the bomb they said would come. She tells me, “you look up, all the time, you flinch at every sound. and you pray.” I say, “I don’t know how to survive anymore,” and I think about praying, how I’ve lost that too, like the touch of a good dream the moment you wake up, grasping as sand runs through your fingers. I can’t pray, so I open my legs, and let my body bleed, ruin in its wake, and hope that that’s close enough.
I wonder who or what my mother prayed for then, or if it was only for survival. My friends and I have new ways to call survival’s name. Earlier that same evening, I texted a quote from Joe Biden to a friend with PTSD and I told her, “I see you.” I wonder what it means to be seen. To count. I wonder the ways my body has built itself around me like a billboard, announcing my worth before I even open my mouth. Two days after Trump was elected, I found myself naked in the bathroom, ready to shower, but caught in the mirror, looking at the way my body had betrayed my old standards. Delirious and dreaming of death, I laughed. Staring at my stomach, I announced, “This president would probably call me a four,” smarting at my own twist of humor, bloody firecracker like a fist in a fight.
The other day I fought to re-teach my body desire. With the lights low, I took a different shower, naming each part of me beautiful while I sloughed off dead skin. The candles revealed me to be light pink and still tender but destroyed. I think to myself, what if we are all already dead, and this is the sure proof of hell that I always needed. A terrible game being played like chess, somewhere over my head, while a child flinches across the globe, at the fear my own country’s hands have built.
Jessica Lohafer's work has appeared in Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women, The Noisy Water Review, Your Hands, Your Mouth, and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, What’s Left to Be Done, was published by Radical Lunchbox Press in 2009. She holds an MFA in poetry from Western Washington University and coordinates the Chuckanut Writer's Conferences. Contact her at jessicalohafer.com.