When you Get Sick but are Young and
Mildly Attractive, this:
i relish this trump-card.
Dr. Yee has the fingers of a grand pianist. He stands onstage, my spliced intestine coiled and drooping from each digit as he conducts a symphony.
I want to be drunk.
I want everyone to send me flowers
without my having to thank them.
Morphine’s dope, right?
So much tastes like metal.
When I first wake up, I see fingernails. Long, shiny fingernails. Wet fish.
My mom sits in the recliner and knits. Loops and stitches.
She never had time to learn before.
She knots and weaves the right pieces together.
Bi-product: Typed note from ex-boyfriend, I want you back.
My bed smells
like old pennies.
If it was in the breast, I’d have a color.
I know you’re just a big doll-faced baby, but they’ll prolly make you graduation speaker, they think you’re braver than a blind fireman.
How can I climb Everest if I have to shit five times a day? How can I daydream about bragging about having climbed Everest? The zenith of wounded animal howls.
Dr. Yee’s hands move deliberately, like they are underwater.
Put them on my neck.
Tell me I’m the prettiest girl
you ever opened.
I don’t remember his face.
Did any of me slime under Dr. Yee’s fingernails?
The syllables in the words “survival rates” bouncing inside our 40s.
My mom knits the longest scarf
I’ve ever seen.
We’ll send it to the tallest man in the world, she says,
overlaughing, we’ll send it to him soon.
I’m found, lost, in the metal.
You’re beautiful. Look how skinny!
The hospital colors are chrome and smurf. Dr. Yee is mirror.
At the podium of my commencement ceremony, I can’t stop touching my scars, those five mouths sewn shut. Are you hungry? I’d like to ask.
Tessa Fontaine lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she sometimes watches friends peel cicada husks from porch columns. There are no cicadas in Woodacre, California, where she is from. Other writing can be found in Creative Nonfiction, The Normal School, Brevity, PANK, Fugue, and more. She teaches creative writing and performance in prisons. If you know any good jokes about cicadas, or other subjects, please get in touch with her.