You are a numeral
start to finish.
Sterile digits that line up on clipboards and hallways
dixie cups with your allotment of fugue and quiet.
Skittish eyes (295.60) in the waiting room
will hiss that mirrors aren’t to be trusted.
Miss 307.10 will nod, shivering in her cotton swaddle.
You are havoc
locked into an odd geometry of needles and query.
They will call your name and say it wrong,
or say the wrong name altogether.
They do not realize that outside the door you all are frenetic molecules in wild entropy, crashing into trees and parking lots with the gospel of vindicated insanity rattling around your skulls, crippled cortex to forehead, but still alive and breathing and dreaming of equanimity and a calendar where x’s stand for bells and sex and plane rides, not plastic bracelets stuck on your wrists like costume jewelry.
One time someone got it right and said you have, not you are, and you cried,
human tears, and did not count them at all.
There are two languages in your purse, three if you look
closely. They won’t. Instead they will ask what day it is,
who’s the president, how to crush a spider
(you assume they mean the corner-dwellers, and not the tarantella of legs and poison in your head)
ask you to put a name to the wind.
They will ask to weigh you and demand to know why you are fundamentally
chemically altered. You are not obliged to tell them why.
It takes you six years to learn this.
Someone comes and changes the curtains, folds the sheets.
The stark white covers turn your lower body into a ghost.
You ask them their full name, what day it is, ask them to
explain please the etymology of the word “pathetic”. They don’t
understand the question. Are you sure (you’re alright)?
Testing, it’s simple. You have seen this
before. Swallow down the aftertaste,
the undissolved tablet of amorphous dimensions
The answers may be there in the morning.