Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jennifer Lagier- Three Poems

Lolly’s Story
“God and Dr. Oz saved my life.”
Been dragging, exhausted,
can’t keep my eyes open.
Turns out it was a sign.
I’d been distracted
by work, family drama,
not paying attention.
Now the oncologist diagnoses
stage 4, not optimistic.
Surgery, margins marked,
tumor excision.
Thirty days of radiation,
poison pumped through a port,
into my bloodstream.
“It’s a crapshoot,”
he tells me,
“which dies first,
healthy tissue or cancer.”
Been meditating,
praying to God, taking
pills Dr. Oz recommended.
So far, I’m still here,
kicking and complaining.
If I had to guess,
I’d say I am winning.
Ironically, it's a nun who
orders mother to purchase
my first pair of high heels,
nylons, the superfluous bra,
rubber straight-jacket girdle.
She tells me the vulnerable priest
needs these reminders to adorn
my pudgy, twelve year old body
so he won't succumb
to overwhelming desire.
I stare at sister's drab habit,
imagine life beneath black cloth,
visualize her spartan cell,
untouched breasts, utilitarian panties.
I sit, listen in confusion,
ponder threats of hell
and her Catholic warnings.
Mother gleefully chooses
my size 15 tent dress:
two tones of heifer plaid
with immense rhinestone buttons.
I redden, sweat toward adulthood
within tight elastic.
When my turn comes to be confirmed,
I stumble forward on command
down the church aisle
dividing our class
into separate genders.
Trembling and filled
with a devout sense of faith,
I kneel before a man wearing skirts,
feel him slapping my face.
Previously published in
SLIPSTREAM, No. 18 (May 1998)
Family Dinners
God is thinking about me and eating me…Tomaz Salamun
During Sunday mass,
we fidgeted on hard pews,
light-headed from fasting,
suffused with delusions
of impending salvation.
We bargained with God,
admitted our failures.
With bent heads, knelt,
offered trembling tongues
for sacrificed Christ’s
dry wafer flesh.
Family dinners reinforced
the repentance theme:
fried onions and leathery liver,
a hungry child's crown of thorns.
Mother’s "eat three bites
or sit all night" rule
taught me to swallow
in obedient silence
everything I was told,
growing glutted, then sick
from the burden of Catholic grace.
Later, I tortured myself
for becoming a victim.
Poked a finger down my throat
and rejected it all,
reclaiming control
as I obstinately purged.
Jennifer Lagier is a recovering Catholic, unrepentant snake wrangler and worshipper.

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