{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Lauren Yates

is from Oceanside, California, but currently lives in Philadelphia.

She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Creative Writing. She also directed Penn’s premier performance poetry collective, The Excelano Project.

Her poetry credits include Emerge, Eunoia, Marco Polo, The Bakery, and The Legendary.

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This Is Something I Need You to Understand

All I know exists between clenched fists.
My hands didn’t come this way.
Everything foreign rubs them raw,
no matter how gentle.
This is how my body looks out for me.

There used to be sand here.
I held on so tight, I lost it.

Most days, I’m best left alone.
The handy-woman loosens my screws,
and thinks she’s always right. When my belly swells,
she paints a barcode on my arm.
Maybe she’ll exchange me for store credit.

What matters escapes me.
I’ve learned more from the vandals
shooting blow darts at the moon
than I ever did out west.

Most days, I doubt that I’m still breathing.
My lungs are worms’ meat.
My lungs don’t know if they need water or air.
Thank God for seltzer.

These IOUs are legs
my brain can’t recognize.
I clamp them at the knees;
I pray for gangrene.

When the doctors drain the infection,
they say, This can’t be what you want.

This is how I look out for my body.
I’m still searching for a saw.