When the fatigue began again, I welcomed it like an old friend, like the one who stopped calling right after we shared an expensive meal. After that, I told someone how I was tired; right in my soul, which I felt, was a feathery thing. I pointed to my sunken chest. They laughed, but put great space between us. I hadn’t meant for it to be funny. My emotions were leaking, like a valve that needed a tool to fix it, but that had not yet been invented. I hadn’t meant to say it at all. I forgot how distance provides protection, though I was a threat to no one. Maybe they thought that their souls would feel tired, too. That I would transmit the wiggly germ of lethargy to their bright and bubbly natures. That ennui would strike them in their prime. I was so tired, and could sleep almost anywhere. Go take a shower was a common directive. But water sluicing over my body only made me think of the time before birth when I was submerged in a self-contained little world. How I must have floated in the superheated amniotic fluid, playing with my tiny toes and fingers. How each cigarette my mother smoked and with each inhalation, I got my own little boost. In my watery globe, my hair grew like tiny quills on my small head, evidence, they say, of my mother’s heartburn. I’ve blocked the rest out. When my eyes droop, I tend to forget, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that, potentially, there are still places on earth where you don’t have to sleep with one eye open.
Michelle Reale is the author of several poetry collections, including Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and Blood Memory (Idea Press, and from Alien Buddha Press is her prose poem collection, In the Year of Hurricane Agnes. She is the Founding and Managing Editor for both OVUNQUE SIAMO: New Italian-American Writing and The Red Fern Review