IF LIGHTNING WAS A THING YOU COULD PLUG INTO
My biography keeps shrinking. Soon it will be only the first letter of my name, a twist of hair on paper. I write a list of advance thank-yous, people whose benevolence I can sharply envision. I once ate a plant that made me see fur everywhere, on pointed rocks, blanketing the side of a tent, and sprouting from all your arms and faces. I am part lightning, I told people, and wasn’t joking: I thought pursuing its charge could provide a natural and plausible conclusion. A Shepherd chased a flicker into the woods and returned panting and soaked, constellations caught in her eyes. An event with honeysuckle and bunting would lengthen our short future, I’m sure, with its toasts, jokes, dropped napkins, duets. Electrostatic brain, electric blue wig, ready to party. Instead, I’ve begun warding off the elements for the first time since childhood, ponchos and gloves, brims that droop, creams that spray. Patterns repeat, in wallpaper and in the wild, the same shapes forever gusting by. Every time I see my insides on a screen, I think: well, this looks familiar. When a seahorse bobbed into the frame I was hardly surprised. What is me and what is broth, thyroid, fortune, oxytocin, demons, pectin, polyurethane, nori, soil? What gets through to you, hiccups nestled in my hiccups, heartbeat quicker than my own? I hope you can’t see the dreams you give me. I lost my breath at the foot of the stairs, saw it whistle out the front door, a storm strobe-lighting the street. I made it through a nine-minute dirge with no rests, inflated the inner tubes of my intestines. Bright lung bronchi sectioned the sky. I blew up balloons until the room was rubber. Being sent down the river on an air mattress wouldn’t be so bad, fronds brushing our faces, snapping at the stems. I banished every extra before I multiplied.
Jaime Forsythe is the author of Sympathy Loophole (Mansfield Press). She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.