There is an intake room, and there is
a nurse who tells me I seem too cheerful to be here.
I smile; tell her I used to be an actress.
She takes my blood pressure without laughing.
I joke about how much I hate blood pressure cuffs.
She says she thinks it’s an unnecessary fear.
I tell her that’s what I’m here for, and I show
her my most charismatic smile. I do not feel
like I belong in a hospital. I do not feel
last night weighing on me like some thick
Plathian haze. I do not feel like a husk of a woman
stripped of her shoelaces and her cell phone.
What I feel is the false inflation
of a hungry stomach sated with water.
There is an examination room, and there is
a doctor in cowboy boots who gingerly lifts
the legs of my pants and looks unimpressed.
I expected him to look unimpressed.
We discuss my luckiness, bright-eyed and vital
as I am. I lie to him because I am still a liar.
I do not tell him that this is my most practiced game;
that there is no one on his staff who will see through
any layer I do not allow to become transparent.
I do not tell him that there is something clawing its way out of me.
What I do tell him is that this will not happen again.
It is determined that all of my lacerations are minor
and just like that, I am freed—shoelaces and all.
My mother buys pad thai. We stare, shocked,
at a movie no one remembers choosing.
There is no part of me that craves screaming
and I have not cried for months.
There is no readiness for honesty or desire
for improvement. There is a bed.
There is a book of sad poems
and so much sleeping to do.
There is a waiting room, and there is a pit in my stomach
the size of my entire body of insecurities.
My mother sits next to me, trying to weep discreetly.
When my name is called, I leave her.
There is an office, and there is a blonde woman
who says “fuck” too often for someone with a master’s degree.
She does not feast upon every lie I feed her. She does not
speak to me as if I could shatter at any moment.
Instead, she asks me what I wanted to forget so badly.
“Dissociation,” I say. “Bad night,” I say. “Trauma.”
She looks at me as if I am not done, so I tell her
that something is clawing its way out of me
and it looks just like the face of every person
I have ever lied to. She asks me what I have to live for.
I tell her I do not know, so she asks me what
I have to die for. I tell her nothing. I know nothing
worth dying for and this is finally the right answer.
There is still a bed and there is still a knife
and there are always these two heavy, begging eyelids
but today, there is a voice that repeats
This is not your undoing. This moment is not
so significant as to be called swan song.
Today, there is a book of unwritten poems
and so much writing to do.