Mood Lighting

By: Lara Egger

Featured Art: Identity by Paige Greeley

Probably it wasn’t your childhood dream
to be a camel on a cruise ship.
And I’m guessing, given the choice, that mime
would have preferred not to open
for a Def Leppard cover band.
                                                        I’m not the person
I’d banked on being either.
Worse for wear, this HazMat suit
is chafing my mojo, and it’s been forever
since any stranger offered to buy me
a glass of wine.
                          Would you still love the moon if I told you
it’s dangling from a hangman’s knot?
My joie de vivre
                               is a solid six when aided
by mood lighting. It’s Luciferian, right?
To be given a body but no gift receipt.
And just as diabolical to be nearing the finish line
wishing I’d fought harder
                                                to have children.
Yesterday, in line at Starbucks,
I noticed the teenage girl ahead of me—
effortlessly taut
                                  in those really short shorts,
her skin, #nofilter flawless.
People like to ask kids what they want to be
when they grow up, but no one ever warns you
there’s an expiration date
                                                on feeling beautiful.
Probably destiny didn’t expect she’d struggle

with a sense of direction. I ignored
the smoke detector, assumed
its batteries were flawed.

Lara Egger is the author of How to Love Everyone and Almost Get Away with It (Juniper Prize winner, University of Massachusetts Press, 2021). She is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship and winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi prize. Egger’s poems have appeared, or will soon appear, in Verse Daily, Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Ninth Letter, Conduit, and elsewhere. Originally from Adelaide, 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.

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