To Arrive Here

Image of foliage against an orange sepia-toned background

All spring, I fed myself double doses
of the prescription, half-doses of
antihistamines. Cut my fingernails into
short squares like I saw on the hands
of my sister’s newborn child.

Ate oranges, washed my hair. Squatted
in corners and screamed until my own
pulp ran salty from my nose. I drove,
successfully. Borrowed library books,
turned the pages of magazines,
admired those clean, square nails.

I pulled my heaving body from the
shower, laid it down on the memory
foam rug. Lit a rose candle. Smoked two
cigarettes. Drank one dim puddle of gin.
Upped the dosage, once, twice, vodka chaser.
Nearly slipped while running, coiled inside myself
on the couch but enjoyed a program
about the Green Bank telescope.

When June came with its wobbling
knees and adolescent posture,
I was here to notice.

I shaved my armpits, wore Chanel tennis shoes,
lipstick like the soft rot of a peach.
Bought new earrings in the
department store, where two teenage girls
ogled my breasts, eyes sour on my feet,
on my well-slept skin. Want rimmed
their mouths like the pelvic pulse before a kiss.

I needed to tell them: these are only accessories.
I have a still-functioning hand, I walked
through the front doors, stepped onto the escalator
to arrive here. I will walk back out, make it home.
I’ll eat dinner. And in the morning,
I’ll have the memory of your faces.

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