Poems from Lauren Scharhag



Hirsute Woman

I am all hair. Not the charming furriness of Frida Kahlo’s

ironical unibrow, the sensual sepias of her lounging, nude,

dense mat of pubes and happy trail on display;

no Janis Joplin flower-child locks, fuzzy and aromatic

as a cannabis stem, thick as shag carpet you can sink in

up to your ankle boots. I am not even the languid sophisticate,

a post-war Parisienne, shocking my American boy-liberators

with my sexual mores, my capacity for pastis, and my

underarm stache. My head is a forest where tigers could hide.

My downy upper lip is the sere grass of the veldt,

aching for the thick white pour of your infusion.

It has spread to my cheeks so that when you turn me to the sun,

I present a sort of reverse halo. In another life, I imagine

I was a bearded lady, maybe even one of the Aceves,

circus performers extraordinaire; so swarthy,

I had to be made a showcase. Every night, a box-office sellout,

a special midnight show, midway popcorn

and a dozen marriage proposals. Beneath this pelt,

no one can see me blush. My spines rival

the succulent bodies of Lareto. The briars of my eyebrows

raise the roof on questions of femininity. The down of my arms

and my prickly-pear legs would drive Mr. Eliot

to distraction across the teacups, my natural merkin

would make a Wookiee growl, and yes,

“Venus in Furs” is my personal anthem.

Lionel Sweeney’s got nothing on me. But for now,

I must resign myself to the doctor writing hirsute on my chart,

and delicately inquiring if I’d considered having hormonal testing done.

Every other month, my hairbrush breaks in half,

bristles snagged, half-swallowed by the frizzy undergrowth

of my scalp. I get exactly one use out of each Lady Bic,

(one per leg, that is) and I buy an extra-strength hair catcher

for my shower drain. I am reduced to parlor tricks in which

I make shampoo disappear at a frankly alarming rate.

I comb my tresses down over my face, don a pair of shades,

and behold: my best Cousin It impression. Everything in me

shrieks abundance to a world that hears only excess,

and the feeling is mutual. I refuse to strip down

to oozing nicks and razor burn. I refuse to be

scorched earth beneath a wax-and-depilatories campaign.

I am Diana, the wolves and the glade. Track me

through the wilderness. Wherever I roam, you’ll find

my fleece caught on brambles. I am the invasive kudzu,

the crabgrass. Try to trim me and I just grow back.




High Water Lines

That spring of ‘51, one of the

Wyandotte chicks took a shine to me.

More than a shine. It thought

I was its mama, tagging along at my heels

as I went about my chores, fluttering

its stubby little gray wings and cheeping

for my attention. I tried to shoo it away

like a biting fly. I was nine years old

and had no patience for such things.

Besides, I knew where my chicken

and dumplings came from. If I

was in the tire swing, it tried to keep up

as I swayed to and fro. When I came home

from school, it would be waiting at the gate.


Then the rains came. It flooded

from Manhattan all the way to St. Charles,

from Platte County down to Neosho.

By July, two million acres underwater.

I remember sitting in our living room

in a rowboat. I remember worrying so

about that little chick.

Of course, it got swept away,

as most of our animals did.


By fall, everything was silt and mud,

splinters and carcasses. The slain fields

would have to be resurrected.

The barn and the chicken coop

would have to be rebuilt, new calves

and hatchlings brought to fill them.

I would resume classes and chores,

reborn as someone who cares

about tiny lives and large adoration.




Varanasi

Goats lock horns on the ghat,

One light, one dark.

I like to think they’re dueling for the fate of the world,

But the truth is, they care nothing for our sacred space,

The tourist boats scudding along the water.

They know only the musk of their opponent,

That one will come off the victor and go

In search of grass.




About Lauren Scharhag

Lauren Scharhag is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. She is the author of Under Julia, The Ice Dragon, The Winter Prince, West Side Girl & Other Poems, and the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. Her poems and short stories have appeared in over sixty journals and anthologies, including trampset, Whale Road Review, The Flint Hills Review, Io Literary Journal, Gambling the Aisle, and Sheila-Na-Gig. She lives on Florida’s Emerald Coast. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com

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