IMAGE: Roz Murtha

In Which you Dream of Yourself as Other

Charlotte O'Brien

Charlotte O’Brien is a queer writer with an MFA from Pacific University. Her poems recently appeared in The Midnight Oil and Epiphany literary journals. She has essays in The RumpusMutha Magazine, and The Manifest-Station.  She is a finalist of The Midnight Oil and Tennessee Williams poetry contests. 

All night, you are split 

in two / parts / facsimiles / identical

twins / matching fingerprints 

 

like making eye contact with a stranger

then recognizing your reflection

in the mirror / your

 

skin / peeled back

as if looking through a microscope / into the core of a thing

not / the women / you’ve lived in

 

or, the man / you become when you’re holding 

the hard / cock of yourself. not the self of possession:

 

           your mother’s girl / father’s / daughter

           mother / sister / wife / animating 

           whatever comes / first—

           a prick or a ladle, 

           red lips or laundry 

           diamond fingers, 

           stockinged thighs, 

           aproned lap. tit in a mouth, 

           finger in the geyser, head in the oven,

 

the carefully taped-up doors to your children’s bedrooms—.

 

not the illusion. / like using the wrong tools for the job

or building your home with sticks,

then fortifying it with fire.

 

instead, you are solved / a cracked code / a puzzle 

game /           essence / 

                      essential / plural / an other / self

                                          

the way ghosts become themselves / after death— 

 

pushed through / identical / but / new/ly 

minted / as if they were just born / 

 

into their true self

 

the way bamboo will push through / 

any thing / even, cement—

propagating itself / even as you’re pulling it up / 

 

leaves like knives / creaking and whispering / 

a subterranean murmur. like, yeah, whatever, bitch, 

I’ll be back. just watch me

 

and you’re watching yourself / in a sweater 

and jeans. as if you were just born / 

into adulthood /

just standing there / dying open.

© 2020 Reed Magazine, San José State University.