Before the Surgery

by Lauren Claus

While you rest and remain, those branches
burn. The smoke reminds me of singing.
Our lake is safe, but it’s the scab of sea,

nothing much to miss. We were in its waves
when you told me how the Greeks could have
set us on fire. Each day I dream, your face a fire,

your team taken, your bone blanched then blackened
under the burns. Touch my skin with hands unsloughed,
and I will either awaken or forget. Each safety scarred,

each night a nakedness, each breath a breaking, I love
over and over, over and over you rise and return
and relinquish me. I fear. They will stitch you

and split you, but I treasure broken pieces.
I tape the teacups that take up our cabinet,
under the shelf made for matches. I know

and need your blood, but the surgeon himself
will slice you. His pride will pierce you
into pieces. He remodels but cannot repeat the work

that went so well under your mother’s skin. Under mine
I long to lust for you. I rest and raise myself to tremble
over your tearing flesh. My truth would be a treatment,

but hush and I will hasten with words. I will speak
as if we never knew of naphtha, as if the scalding
left behind some skin, as if I loved you without score

and beauty was beyond breaking.


Lauren Claus is a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. She received a BA in English from Harvard University in 2016. Her poems are forthcoming in Zone 3 and have appeared in Rise Up Review, Bluestem, and the Tributaries publication of The Fourth River.

1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

One response to “Before the Surgery

  1. This gave me goosebumps! Please post more of your works.

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