the migraineur watches x-men apocalypse

Rita Maria Martinez
Content Warnings
"My younger self became adept at sleight of hand."
Dec 28, 2020 9:51 PM

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 or follow her on Twitter @cubanbronteite.