The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Requiem for a Robot Dog by Lauren Scharhag

This selection, chosen by guest curator Heather Leigh, is from Requiem for a Robot Dog by Lauren Scharhag, released by Cajun Mutt Press in 2019. 

Hirsute Woman

I am all hair. Not the charming furriness of Frida Kahlo’s
ironical unibrow, the sensual sepias of her lounging, nude,
dense mat of pubes and happy trail on display;
no Janis Joplin flower-child locks, fuzzy and aromatic
as a cannabis stem, thick as shag carpet you can sink in
up to your ankle boots. I am not even the languid sophisticate,
a post-war Parisienne, shocking my American boy-liberators
with my sexual mores, my capacity for pastis , and my
underarm stache. My head is a forest where tigers could hide.
My downy upper lip is the sere grass of the veldt,
aching for the thick white pour of your infusion.
It has spread to my cheeks so that when you turn me to the sun,
I present a sort of reverse halo. In another life, I imagine
I was a bearded lady, maybe even one of the Aceves,
circus performers extraordinaire; so swarthy,
I had to be made a showcase. Every night, a box-office sellout,
a special midnight show, midway popcorn
and a dozen marriage proposals. Beneath this pelt,
no one can see me blush. My spines rival
the succulent bodies of Lareto. The briars of my eyebrows
raise the roof on questions of femininity. The down of my arms
and my prickly-pear legs would drive Mr. Eliot
to distraction across the teacups, my natural merkin
would make a Wookiee growl, and yes,
“Venus in Furs” is my personal anthem.
Lionel Sweeney’s got nothing on me. But for now,
I must resign myself to the doctor writing hirsute on my chart,
and delicately inquiring if I’d considered having hormonal testing done.
Every other month, my hairbrush breaks in half,
bristles snagged, half-swallowed by the frizzy undergrowth
of my scalp. I get exactly one use out of each Lady Bic,
(one per leg, that is) and I buy an extra-strength hair catcher
for my shower drain. I am reduced to parlor tricks in which
I make shampoo disappear at a frankly alarming rate.
I comb my tresses down over my face, don a pair of shades,
and behold: my best Cousin It impression. Everything in me
shrieks abundance to a world that hears only excess,
and the feeling is mutual. I refuse to strip down
to oozing nicks and razor burn. I refuse to be
scorched earth beneath a wax-and-depilatories campaign.
I am Diana, the wolves and the glade. Track me
through the wilderness. Wherever I roam, you’ll find
my fleece caught on brambles. I am the invasive kudzu,
the crabgrass. Try to trim me and I just grow back.

Lauren Scharhag (she/her) is an associate editor for GLEAM: Journal of the Cadralor, and the author of thirteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 150 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize and multiple Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations. She lives in Kansas City, MO.

Heather Leigh is a queer, disabled writer and editor who has been working within Chicago’s publishing world for more than twenty years, editing poetry for the likes of Curbside Splendor and reading prose and poetry for Uncanny Magazine. She has recently began to focus on her own publication goals between semesters teaching English, writing, reading, and journalism at various midwestern community colleges. She is a three-time SAFTA fellowship recipient, a multiple resident of Firefly Farms, and most recently had a speculative horror story published in Bloodlet, an anthology by CultureCult Press. She lives in Chicago with a retired cage-fighting poet, two rescue cats names after Buffy watchers, enjoying life with the family that caught her by surprise.

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