My younger self became adept at sleight of hand.
During grad school I sought the promise of relief
nestled in my pocket, surreptitiously plopped blue
capsules in my mouth when I thought nobody looking,
let the meds soothe my forehead and temples,
assuage the left side of my head, the onset of throbbing
always a descent from grace into that scorching
climate Dante describes so well. I rarely left the house
without abortives, fearful of atomic migraines mushrooming
at ill-timed moments like dinner at La Carreta when an extra
painkiller lulled me to sleep and a medianoche sandwich
drooped from my hands. Todd escorted me out while I spouted
gibberish and doubtless appeared a mess to onlookers,
perhaps a sloppy drunk like LiLo or a Kardashian on a bender
and oh so piteous like a teenaged Scott Summers
in the back row during class in X-Men Apocalypse,
a bleary-eyed mutant rubbing the bridge of his nose
as severe pain engulfs the left then right temple and his entire
face feels aflame, panic forcing the future X-Men to bolt
without a pass and seek refuge in the boy’s room or the uneasy
quiet of the hall praying the mounting discomfort subsides
as he unknowingly confronts the inevitability of genetic destiny,
is ambushed by an intolerable brightness bursting past both pupils,
uncontrollable beams shooting forth from eyes he cannot close.
Cyclops’s vision of the world forever altered as the iconic visor
becomes a permanent fixture— its ruby-infused lenses subduing
an incendiary vision, a world always irradiated and glowing,
a distortion my older self comprehends in the last row
of the movie theater as she observes through sunglasses.
Rita Maria Martinez loves all things Jane Eyre. Her poetry collection—The Jane and Bertha in Me (Kelsay Books)—is inspired by Charlotte Brontë's classic novel. Martinez's work appears in publications like The Notre Dame Review, Ploughshares, and The Best American Poetry Blog. Her poetry also appears in the textbook Three Genres: The Writing of Fiction/Literary Nonfiction, Poetry and Drama and in the anthology Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish. Martinez's recent poetry raises awareness about the challenges and triumphs inherent in navigating life with chronic daily headache (CDH) and migraine. Visit her website at www.comeonhome.org/ritamartinez or follow her on Twitter @cubanbronteite.