Øyvind Holmstad CC
The Morning in My Chest
The coughing wakes me up.
Though it wasn’t a sneeze, I bless myself.
Prayer echoes off breath.
Most days it’s fine. This morning:
torsion from the get-go. I woke up wearing
the bruise-gloved lung.
Most days I don’t talk about it. Nobody knows
about the redeye, six hours trying to decide: was my heart
Or burrowing deeper?
Like grief, the moods of my body
To understand, you’d need to know,
and who would I wish this
into or over?
It’s only a paper dress, paper blanket,
a nurse’s smart fingers creasing my ribs and
reminding me I’ll last longer than the pain.
Most days I believe that. If you slide your hand up my shirt,
I’ll let you feel the puffy muscle, swelling
around my bones, asking
I don’t need to use my hands. I can roll to my right,
It’s been years since I
could call my insides inside.
You could call my body perfect.
For me this is not a body at all,
this is an underground bunker, soft lights
simulating the sunrise.
The sunrise. The sun rises and
the first thing I think about is breathing.
My father, who aren’t in heaven,
call me driving, talk reckless.
I answer walk between train tracks.
City rumble traffic folks cover confession.
He’s never forgiven anyhow.
I keep file of my loves. My friends,
ledgered good or angry in heartmargin.
Parents told me crazy,
keeping friends anywhere,
much less so close.
Too close! The loyalty I got unbreathable.
Choke any love not enough, leave
empty space lungs to occupy.
My holy mother raise me lifewrecker,
ask “You ruin that boy again?”
I’m wheat paste and Velcro is all.
Impermanent bitch to get off.
Mirrorshine talon blind everybody
while I peel fingerpads unsticky.
Imagine quicksand touch your shoulder
before time realize soft ground.
Maybe that’s not quite it.
Eight years old scaled a mulberry
sturdy, high as the house.
Squirreled over from small pines
to grab low branches,
stuck up top til supper.
Feet left the ground and forgot
something gonna drag me down
no matter I agreed.
Yeah, that’s about where I am.
Rooftop eyeline, denying any act of earth
to save my sorry ass.
Hattie Jean Hayes is a writer and comedian, originally from a small town in Missouri, who now lives in New York. Her work has appeared in Belletrist Magazine, The Conium Review, Hobart, HAD, and Not Deer Magazine. She is working on her first novel.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.