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Author: Meredith C.

There are no good words to explain, no shovel precise enough
to dig that deep around the arteries and veins
to that fiery heart at 120 beats
pounding beneath the wooden lid of this disease.

but let me try, as I sit on the broken planks
I clawed my own way through
fingernails still full of dirt and splintered pine
all these years later.

I leave them that way to remember
how from that wrecked last day on my knees
I waved the bloody white flag of no more
not knowing for sure what that would mean.

Which is how I found you, all fury and flash
running so fast between each Marlboro red
dancing demon on the bottle of your favorite nip
not even close to done, your will as tough as old leather.

That day at the hospital, possessed
you tore the tubes from your skin
and snaked past the nurses and out the door
to the hot summer heat of your cinnamon whiskey.

So many days lost and so were you
out there somewhere and making sure
that if you were alive to tell it,
you would have quite the story one day.

Adding to that tale, 66 proof of promises and lies
until from someone else’s shaking hands
you felt the rough jab of the needle
so deep in your young vein for the very first time.

Then coming to in a dirty unlit hallway
no one is too good for anything out there
not even you, crawling to a stop
a new depth dug at your last call.

From the constant scratches underneath the lid
from your brown eyes wild, I could see
miles across the char and flame
this one here, she is just like me.

And once all the fight and flight bled out
nothing left but the ragged sleep of a haunted heart
with just enough fear left to flee
and enough to know there is nowhere else to go.

And now with heart calm and eyes clear
the demon long exorcised from your blood
you are the fireball, a red hot ball of fire that will streak across the dark day
you once slid beneath, dreaming of the end.

No longer pulling up the warm blanket of dirt that thudded down
and scattered across the lid, you let me sit with you
on your broken planks, your fingernails still full of dirt and pine
and your will as tough as new leather.

Author: Meredith C. There are no good words

Author: Meredith C.

When something’s dead, they tell me
it rests.
I don’t see that—I see mistaken black toes with tags
worming up from kicked over dirt
when it rains.

It comes back when you bury it alive,
they say, shaking a finger.
I believe you, I lie.

My own head
this little thing–
I popped off and dropped into a bottle
twisted the cap tightly around its neck
and hurled into the current.

It drifted to places I don’t remember
it drifted to places I’d long since left
it bobbed and floated on
from trembling hands at dusk
to sweat-drenched dreams at dawn.

I tried to hold the head under, I even untwisted the cap
and waited for the bubbles to emerge
for the mouth to fill and flow over, churning the body upside down—
the last of that little girl, until it sank
to settle motionless on the bottom.

I am a conundrum, a bloated baby with searching eyes
staring pickled from round walls in a sealed jar.
I am the same thing I gazed at, mouth hanging
till my mother dragged me away by the hand.
I am, I am, still choking on the water in the womb I swam away from.

And then all those years later, all eyes on me
to which I said, fuck you
and ran away with the first love I ever knew.

My cup ran over and I awoke a day later,
surfacing in a crowd of featureless faces and are you okay?
there’s too much blood in my alcohol system
they diagnose and prescribe while I fold them all into a tight square
and leave it in the bottom of my coffee cup.

Rest in peace, Doc, and then I am swimming
and when I get tired I float on my back
till my head hits the solid shore, and I sleep.

It comes back, they say
when you bury it alive.
I believe you now, I reply.

The dirt frozen hard, the water frozen still
the womb a broken bottle.
And the mind, that little thing, it’s something anyway–
because sometimes, when everything’s quiet
I can almost hear it kick.

Author: Meredith C. When something’s dead, they tell