It’s 3am and I am walking backwards,
up and down the staircase in a faulty rhythm.
There is a knot in my throat the size of a fist
and whenever I speak it tastes of gravel.
My dress climbs higher with each step
the pattern indistinguishable at certain altitudes
and I reflect sadly on my once trim thighs.
Time forces the soul to the surface,
turns us inside out and right side up
or upside down depending on our persuasion.
My brain feels tight and heavy
and I can’t make out the path ahead.
Under siege, my emotions come one and all.
I take a sputtering, bloodied breath
but the moment for enlightenment has passed.
A spray of shrapnel catches my left ventricle,
I grip the edge of my kitchen countertop
to keep from spilling onto the linoleum tiles.
Between lakes and pines I feel invincible,
a beast can only live in wild spaces.
Low light softens even the gravest afflictions.
My thoughts are audible as they pass.
I travel landscapes like the simple quilts
woven by my grandmother’s hands
but the distance does not bring me
any closer to a sense of freedom.
I keep tripping over the same fork in the road.
Are these obstacles gifts or signs?
I spend my days fighting the fires in my infernal heart
and my nights closeted by baseless fears.
Is this my picture perfect, my life as I have willed it?