Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 7 • Fall 2003 • Featured Writer • Poetry

Sleeping Against the Wall

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz

I used to like sleeping against the wall. After the lights finally went out, I'd tuck myself so tight against it that sometimes I'd push the mattress away and fall through the break. I liked the wall because the wall was solid and faithful, and besides, I liked the sound my feet made when I dragged them across the rough plasterboard surface.

It made me happy, the feeling of the wall against my back, knowing that that part of my body was safe from being hurt. I wished that I could wrap the wall around me like a sheet or a shell, or that I could press myself inside it like a dark wet stain.

After you're beaten, everything about you seems hot. Your skin burns, your cheeks and eyes burn, your tears burn. Your nose burns from the inside, your ears burn from the yelling, from the impact.

Even the sheets burn, just a little, just a little too clingy between the thighs where the fingernails have left wet bloody smiles.

But the wall always has a cool spot. I'd hold my body against it, feel it grow warm beneath me, then slide, with that neat sliding sound, to another spot, and it would be cool, for awhile, and then another...

All the time pressed so hard against the wall that it would feel soft, welcoming, and I would fall asleep that way, listening for footsteps in the hallway, grateful that no one was coming into my room that very moment. That no one was going to beat me up.

That no one was going to get me.

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz is a transgendered goth dyke with a second degree black belt in Kodokan Judo, a University Award from the Academy of American Poets, and a Gothic dancing prize. Her work has appeared most recently in Beyond the Valley of Contemporary Poets, Girlchick.com, Liquidgothic.com, Southern Poetry Review, Rising, and Tsur. Ryka has work forthcoming in the anthology Poetry is Not a Luxury: Poems by L.A. Women of Color. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University, is a founder of Cornell University's Asian American Playhouse, and was coach of Cornell's 1990 Ivy League Judo Championship Team. She has worked with the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions have been adopted by the group as its official "Songs of Peace." Ryka has been featured at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles Poetry Festival. She performed at ForWord Girls and Intercourse -- A Sex and Gender Recipe for Revolution, in San Francisco, Cliterati in Atlanta, Not the Vagina Monologues in Los Angeles and Gen Estro in Minneapolis. She teaches writing at Santa Monica College. For more, visit rykaryka.com.

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