How I have to shower once a day to scrub away the layers of arnica, capsaicin, smear of black pepper and beeswax, thin film of magnesium crusting my back like I am a blue whale barnacled, ancient, my queen bed the wide ocean, the yawn of vastness.
A half day’s work pours over into a week; slow slough of skin, pain salve, chronic inflammation, MSM drenched in sleeping pills, propranolol to suppress my deep triggers, things that transport me into darkness.
How the more trauma is attached to my wild intelligence the more unreliable my memory becomes, the thinner my veils become between my brain and the arid world beyond, it’s unforgivable and simultaneous and a canvas coat with pockets big enough for a book, a potion, treasures.
Did you think this was going to be pretty? Buttoned up and scheming, I gargle upriver.
Part of me always knew I’d get sick: my body knew in its small certain way: it was checking out on me, starting to creak in secret corners of itself, in places only it could hear;
Orthopedist slinking in to begin my week, pool of calendar days to drown in, a holiday sparking a manic episode but in dreams everything is smooth-edged and gentle, a classroom blooming eager blossoms, blood thrilling up my throat, spine beckons, a comma.
I try on my new clothes, they are supposed to already fit me and I am supposed to feel at home and I do but I am inconsistent, aggressive, everyone tells me and I sort of already know but definitely struggle to care bc if I weren’t a femme would it matter my demeanor would it matter to anyone how much space I need between my thighs on the crowded 4 train how I could turn my neck 360 degrees then could stretch this rubber band long AF like a rainbow in front of my chest, arcing in then yawning out, again, and, again,
Jesse Rice-Evans is a queer Southern poet and rhetoric scholar. She collects round stones, teaches writing at City College of New York and the Cooper Union, and loves skullcap. Read her work in tenderness yea, the Wanderer, Monstering, and in the chapbooks Soft Switch (Damaged Goods Press) and The Rotting Kind (Ghost City Press).