dried up

(after Juliana Hatfield)

When I consider the facts I’m rendered horizontal, head down

and sweating. I am the beetle trapped on my back in the heat of

the afternoon, shining. Under a starry-eyed banner I’ve come to live

not in a state of grace but in a flood of pheromone. Where my table

once housed flowers it’s now stacked with books and bills—a tableau

of denial. At four a.m. I find myself ravenous, standing in in the kitchen

eating cold cuts in the cool glow of the refrigerator because relaxation

is a myth. These nights headlines flash dark on the pink of my eyelids—

an apparition like the unease I step into every time I leave the house.

I search for in-network therapists—fruitlessly—write a sonnet instead.

How empowered are the men who would call me their crazy ex-girlfriend?

And yes there are empty pill bottles under my bed but the craziest thing I’ve

ever done is accept the lies these men presented as reason. I stay because

when I close my eyes you try to change the story. Because time after time

I tell the state about my condition and when it’s over I share more humanity

with the green beetles in the courtyard than with any man in any room.

If I understand how the world works it’s only because I’ve been digging in

the dirt, pulling truth after truth out of the earth, and here I discover:

It’s not that things are different now. It’s just louder and worse and yes

I found a silence that let us rot like cut flowers left too long in a mason jar.

If the only way to keep this from spreading is to hiss all night at the sun,

that’s what I’ll do, waiting for the song to play, waiting for the right day

to retrieve the word home from a hole the kitchen wall. The right day to

teach it to the children, to explain why I’ve never been able to walk away.