Three Poems by Julia Edwards

by: Julia Edwards

In Julia Edwards’ poems, to construct self the poet rehearses the past, taking meaning from memory: “At 27 I am still 7 with more time embedded in me.” Edwards understands that this spiraling recursiveness is universal, that while we are essentially alone we are also deeply connected to others who themselves are also essentially alone, all of us writing our fragmented stories together: “Talk to me like/ you’ve never been motherless.”

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27

I stuck my head out of backseat windows
when I was young not needing

water because I drank the air
Now I wait in my car behind

dirty glass while a man squirts
a hose and waves me away

I got sick on airline curbsides
too afraid to fly now I don’t

but there’s lanterns going dark
in my stomach like lightning

bugs collapsing into rain
I repeated the first day of school

over and over in my play
better dressed every time

then went to school wearing all blue
slightly different tones like a bruise

In my bed at night I accepted
getting shot in my sleep through the wall

Now the news is just the soap
on the lifespan of a sponge

I could save an inchworm from hot
pavement and everything had faces

Now I wake up with sun spears in my eyes
and oh, how the morning shakes

I pressed down my breasts when they
started to grow I tried

to screw them back in like nails to a board
I like them now they are warm, they are safe

like yes, a little more milk in my cup please
I was my mother’s first wish at 27

at 27 I am still 7 with more time embedded in me
but not enough to synch my body and my mind to an outlet but wait

there’s no plug who detached me?
I’ve decided to not avoid stampedes on the sidewalk

I’m small but fierce I’m like a mutt
who looks up at me to find an answer but then I notice

everyone is me and I’m the dog so no one knows anything but
this isn’t comforting

Today is my 27th birthday and
it’s just like me to sit on the ground

says my companion, my family, my samsara
wearing a camera pointed away from me

It’s everybody’s 27th birthday party
I’m wearing my mother from the 80s

and she’s panting like history.

 

Exit row

I’m on the plane listening
++++++to a tape on meditation

It’s not just the breath it’s also good
+to really focus on something like
++++++doing dishes.

For a relationship to be whole
+one should wash
while the other dries.

My friend tells me
++++++there’s a stone you can
thumb nervously until it
++++++breaks in half.

Then you shower
+in all the pulp you’ve gathered
from erasing your marks

++++++and use it to buy a fresh
place to sit.

An old man eats peanuts with
++++++a band aid on his face
++++++in the aisle
+++he says
no water, just ice to the attendant
to the plastic cup
to Jesus himself and when I stand up
to leave
++++++he says feel free
++++++++++++to go
ahead of me I wouldn’t want you
++++++to miss anything.

 

Midwestern Halloween

In Bonnie’s house
I learned that vines
are the plants that wrap
around houses. Leaves
people rake & then I lost
touch after that.

Physical education in 1945
was only for men
shimmying up poles out of water
into arms and told not to
come back.

There’s a sign for
The Crying room in the
church. Old faded
salmon rose shutters
close behind.

In ceremony we sing
about her hammering
out a warning in white tunnels
under Ohio valleys.

Picture us laid out on the
back steps. Talk to me like
you’ll never be motherless.

 

Julia Edwards is a poet/artist living in Brooklyn. She is the co-author of The Book of Common Fallacies (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012). Her work has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, The Frisky, and several other publications – covering topics that range from local musicians to women’s issues and health. She studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and continues to work, collaborate, and read with poets based in New York. Her poems are featured in a zine called Blood Girl Info and she recently had her debut as a performance artist in Authority Figure.

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