Lara Egger

Self-Portrait as Mixed Tape and Standard Deviation

I know how it feels to win every game
of strip-freudenschade. I’m that girl

at the baby shower, muddling bloodlust
into the breezy sangria. With infernal love

as my henchman, I’ve dragged truth
before the firing squad.
                                           Can a womb

trace rupture’s lineage; has anyone mapped
the gene
                for original sin?

The median American woman
will take three sexual partners in her lifetime.

The median man will take six
(four, if he’s a college graduate).

Memory like an exit poll. Night
and its quotidian flotilla of stars.

Was it already too late
                                           when Kurt Cobain
found god in “Lithium;” too late, at sixteen,

when the man I was dating
told me I should get tested for HIV?

I have asked so much of this body—

though nothing has ever grown inside it,
though I have asked sex, I realize now,

to be a synonym for worth.
                                                      Smear me on your vanity—
I’m as cheap and persuasive as lip gloss.

Not every thorn ripens, not every prayer.
The past is asleep in Jesus but its damage

is open casket. I’ve been the consolation
prize, an aberration of polyester roses,

I’ve been the bootleg moonlight curdling
around the drain
                                  on the slaughterhouse floor.



How to Be Where You Already Are

I never planned on being the rabbit
the magician pulled from his hat.
Nor the artificial ficus in the hotel lobby,
leaves so near lifelike
                                          one feels compelled
to touch them. Like a lake, my deeper parts
are darkest. What’s better, I wonder—to be desired
or understood?
                              Yesterday, a guy in a pickup
slowed as he drove past me. I’m hot
from behind yet he seemed disappointed
when he got a good look at my face.
It’s not easy
                        guiding a papier-mâché boat
through the truth’s whitewater rapids.
Would you still have felt up
that ficus if you’d known it was actually
a weeping fig?
                              When a neighbor asks
if I have any children.
When I duck out of yoga early
to rush home to my gin.
                                               Whichever way
I turn, the sun’s setting in my direction.
Contrary to what everyone assured me,
darkness doesn’t fall,
                                          it rises.



Lara Egger is the author of How to Love Everyone and Almost Get Away with It (Juniper Prize winner, University of Massachusetts Press, 2021). Her poems have appeared, or will appear, in Ploughshares, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, New Ohio Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Australia, Egger now lives in Boston where she co-owns Estragon Tapas Bar. She holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.