Lauren Claus

 

After the Epithalamium

You don’t have to hold me or hear
the coarse creaks under my body

or crest my limbs that curve over
the overhang or say I am too lovely

to be loved. The outside can have winds or waves
but here floorboards do not touch—

their borders are broken. They were built
to only be near, which means

they are not damaged, not defective.
Last night we saw a lake filled only with light

and I think I could find it again. I think
we are misled by any longing.
 
You don’t have to stay with me
to save me. Your shadow is stuck

to my dress, its darkness— if you leave me,
know I can survive still, even here.

 

 

 

Affliction

 

 Fever

I will keep the horses for you.
They tremble, tamer and taken

by illness. Alive but not awake,
their bodies try to dream 

the fever away. Children come
and I let the girls sit in stalls;

horses’ legs can’t hurt you,
lying down. Stones in the straw

have overnight become permissible.
I will bury each horse looser limbs first.

In your own ways, parents,  
cherish them past the weight

and work of dying.

 

 

 

 Three Month Prognosis

I want to know. I want the swell
of your skin as we trace the time,

the space— somewhere with sky—
I’ll loosen as I linger. I used to lure you,

so look at me and lie about the ways
that I am ending. I’ll wait. I am the waste

of my body, blood under the bruise,
silence over any sound. Outside,

clouds amass until they swell away the sky. No light
to hurt us. No hope to hold us back.

 

 

 

 

Fever

I will keep the horses for you.
They tremble, tamer and taken

by illness. Alive but not awake,
their bodies try to dream 

the fever away. Children come
and I let the girls sit in stalls;

horses’ legs can’t hurt you,
lying down. Stones in the straw

have overnight become permissible.
I will bury each horse looser limbs first.

In your own ways, parents,  
cherish them past the weight

and work of dying.

 

 

 

 

Lauren Claus is a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research interests include surgeon-family communication and medical ethics in the field of otolaryngology. Her poems have recently appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, Hawaii Pacific Review, Briar Cliff Review, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere.