The Journal Petra

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Ashley Miranda

first baptism

did you think the infant you handed over would continue crying, this infinite crying, crying
under her bed, crying on trains, crying sobbing mucus choking salt water drowning, did you
think that would happen as they anointed her, drowned her, silenced her?

second baptism

did you think this child you handed over would continue crying? when brother white man tall
suit southern accent touched her head, you said, yes. men asked this child if she'd like to be
baptized, she thought it would be like going swimming, being weightless. men told her god
would free her and she'd float forever, untethered, float right into the sun. instead, men pushed
her down, but she was used to being pushed down, there she went, soaking in tears, in god's

third baptism

did you think this child would really float? she's flailing, no driftwood to cling to, flailing as she
sinks deeper deeper deeper hands grabbing deeper pushing deeper she's a rock, battered, she's
being pushed someone save her she's drowning, big gulps now, mouth pried open now, no she
thinks, nothing she says, bubbles erupting from a tiny doll, and she thinks, briefly in the murky
holy water, it's better down here than up there

fourth baptism

did you think this woman would really continue? being baptized over and over and over and
trying absolve sin from her dna but sin has given her a beating, sin is oozing from her unclean
girlhood. brother white man is proselytizing at her now, all these baptisms but still a sinner, been
a whore since she was four or five, still a whore now whore whore whore, who is ringing in her
ear, god doesn't ring god doesn't say a word, never has, she never saw any god soaking wet only
a refraction of men pushing her down holding her down as she tries not to breathe

light of my life // fire of my loins // be a good baby // do what i want

girls are playing with lo' again, wearing soft pink with embroidered DADDYs. where does a girl
go when everything is dad kink?

soft cotton candy shirts and heart collars. holographic girls looking for a taste for men who're
older. out there, heart glasses means YES, but no one remembers the epicenter of Lo.Lee.Ta.

i am constantly aware of what is cool, thanks lana. you didn't make me relevant, you made me an
accessory. i fucked my high school teacher. i married my high school teacher.

each movement i make screams DADDY. each movement i make screams ISSUES. thanks dolls
kill for making dad kink pink again. thanks lolita for the kaleidoscope that overlaps ROMANTIC
& VICTIM. thanks for nothing. i worry constantly that my dolores shifted to lolita shifted to pop
culture pastel girl sexpot. culture vultures worry about the purity of pink lolita bdsm. i worry if
my pink hair, pink dolls, pink cartoons, pink words, pink relationship is just an aesthetic to you.

am i lolita just because i fuck now?
lolita isn't real, but dolores is.

i was dolores. i'm not and am still dolores.

the word memory is insufficient in this current state. memory too often is tied to nostalgia.
the english language is insufficient in this current state. so many words to describe a past event;
reminiscence, wistful recollections, but no words to describe a non-nostalgic remembered past.
no words to describe the depth and weight of a memory. all descriptors imply memory is simply
a hallucination of elation.

how do we acknowledge the death of an event?

is memory a funeral? do you leave lilies at memory's grave?
when petals wilt, so do we.

is memory
a recollection,
a celebration,
a lamenation?

none of the above?

language fails to describe the memory of a victim
without relying on psychosomatic reaction.

language fails to describe the emotion of                    a cat. a cat is a minotaur & a minotaur is a

                                                                                     if monsters exist and are unassuming
                                                                                     why shouldn't i act as if everything
                                                                                     has the ability to devour me?

memory is a trap.

a trap is a trigger.

                                                                                     what is a trigger? a trigger springs a trap.
                                                                                     a trigger springs a sound       (deformation)
                                                                                     a trigger springs a smell        (empty sand)
                                                                                     a trigger springs a color        (creaking wood)
                                                                                     a trigger springs a feeling     (coriander)
                                                                                     a trigger springs a memory   (detachment)

a memory is a mourning. a memory is a solicitation. a memory is oppressive. a memory is trap.

i have not yet apologized for the cystic      infant
            crawling                        in your                        mind      dimension
                                                                                                                        [ a  vivisection
                        _              of condolences   )

                                    the pus, a blue bubbling rotation rotting
                                    under your scalp                        _                               we gambled

                                                                                                                        on your skin

                                                                                                                        we tainted

                                                                                                                        with    insecurity

when will      we be
                                    burdened with life?

            as long as there are shadows,
            we will remain

Ashley Miranda is a latinx poet from Chicago. Her work has been previously featured by the Denver Quarterly, Yes, Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review, OCCULUM, and Glass Poetry Press. Her chapbook dolores in spanish is pain, dolores in lolita is a girl was recently a finalist for Black Lawrence Press' Black River competition. She tweets impulsive poetry and other musings @dustwhispers.