I was                thirsty
I was                a country
of queer force
                                                                           rushing east to see
                                     the strangest                             side of twilight

I was a woman in the usual way
I had                 no language but
             distress and duty
                         I have been taught to doubt my mother
and fear tradition
             but my queer tongue
would not          could not
shut up

The afternoon sun seemed       mighty    
                         and touched my arm
                         with a delicate pain
                                     kneeling before
the beautiful weeping mistiness
                                     of the valleys    

                                                            Peculiar thoughts and fancies
                                                            ceaseless urging

Through the darkness I could see
                                                                          a great stormy sea
with a strange mixture of movements

             slight and flickering
seemed to mock my
universal yes

                                                            A stranger                      smiled
                                                            and whispered               he turned his face away

I asked what this all meant        I was curious             to know about the night
my own ears               got accustomed to the sound

Suddenly                     a faint and endless absence
began beetling around
             the howl that swept
             the ruined sky


CHAPTER I is an erasure of the first chapter of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and is an excerpt from a larger manuscript, Your Girls That You All Love Are Mine Already, centered on a narrator in a sexually and physically abusive relationship, and addresses the assertion that “oppression and resistance can coexist within the same body.”

Chase Berggrun is a genderqueer poet and the author of Discontent and Its Civilizations: Poems of Erasure, winner of the 2012 jubilat Chapbook Contest, and their work has been published or is forthcoming in Apogee, No Tokens, Cosmonauts Avenue, Cutbank, BOAAT, Beloit Poetry Journal, the anthology Time You Let Me In: 25 Under 25, and elsewhere. They are Poetry Editor at Washington Square Review, and an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU.