There is a monster in my chest, punching
My throat, growling into the wet pillow.
I stuff a towel under the bathroom door,
Turn the water so hot it burns my hips.
My final position is fetal, on the floor
Of the tub, close to the brown streak above the drain,
And down between the quiet porcelain walls.
When I come back to bed
I smell your sickness, too, a different
Flora than mine, and it disgusts me.
When my coughing stops, I wonder if I am dead.
It’s the absence of pain that makes me nervous.
So I stay awake. Do things the living do.
I watch a show on Malaysia. The host
Is a blonde woman stuffed into a magenta
Tank top. She looks like a vase.
A chef stuffs dim sum into the mouth
Of a white man from New Zealand.
Later there is a shot of her making dim sum
For three thousand people, her fingers
Turning lobes of dough into order.
I think the Nyquil has done something to my brain.
Blue skies at night. Stars in my lungs.
I am hyper focused. I zoom in on the woman’s hands,
Memorizing the pinch and pull. I see that she
Is simply folding, like an accordion.
Maybe all things I once thought complicated, are simple.
I will turn 39 on Sunday. Someday I will die.
I might die coughing on a white bed. I might die in the shower.
Or maybe in a sexier way, like on a motorcycle in Malaysia.
The blond woman sits on the floor of a hut
Up in the trees. The family feeds her a tapioca root,
Scraped out with a bamboo blade. She takes a bite. She frowns.
I am so grateful to these people, she says,
And the camera pans away
Before you really see her cry.