It’s a chore to crawl through hidden tunnels just to find a taste
of medicine. I have taken to eating nicotine patches and remote controls.
You, all chest and song. You, the left side of the bed. I have killed
so many of my darlings my trashcan is overflowing. The sink is clogged.
My arms ache. I fall asleep in the corner of a hotel bar.
My dreams come with a receipt, but I never have the energy to return them.
I hold a press conference to announce my retirement from drinking
through a straw. There isn’t a song in the world I want to listen to right now.
My fingernails, caked in soil, growing weeds after each shower.
I have become something so quiet. I wake up nothing but the hand
on my lower back, the pillow on my other pillow.
I have never met a good intention that hasn’t slipped on a patch of ice.
The Surgeon General’s Warning on the inside of my bottom lip
reads If you ______(noun) ______ (emoji) _____ (proper noun),
you will turn into a mausoleum. You, the kindling
in my hands. You, a pulse. A thirst. My muted lust. You,
the oh and the how and the want, this desire for touch,
to be agreed that I am worth, to be a deer running into headlights,
to be mood, everything and all, to tell you, I am waiting
to be found in the smallest crater on the moon.
Leigh Chadwick is the author of the chapbook, Daughters of the State (Bottlecap Press, 2021), and the poetry coloring book, This Is How We Learn How to Pray (ELJ Editions, 2021). Wound Channels, her full-length poetry collection, and Pretend I Am Real, a novel written in vignettes, will be simultaneously released by ELJ Editions in February of 2022. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Salamander, Heavy Feather Review, Indianapolis Review, and Milk Candy Review, among others. Find her on Twitter at @LeighChadwick5.
image: MM Kaufman