Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

Counting Bodies

For Nicole
I felt like I was in the morgue, counting bodies
when I heard the doctors say, “Poor thing, she’s
in a coma.” I had been doing aerial spins, loops,
dives over and around my hospital bed. Hara-kiri
didn’t work. I’d tried to swing on a butcher’s hook.
And before that I lay down in a frosty white gown
in a funeral home anticipating embalmment. No
luck. I couldn’t die. Not even after my Audi veered
left, flipped over the divider for the thousandth time.
But soon, I began to imagine my boyfriend with
someone else. Their earthquake had fifty-lives.
I could see him screwing her–flip-flopping in my
bubble bath, canoodling in my bed. Obviously, he
loved that jewelry store look, her yelping hips,
the biting. When he kissed her, I tried electric shock,
swallowed mountains of rock cocaine. I’m not sure
when I saw the ghost of my dead mother, but I told her
to go get my key. No, I wouldn’t have minded if he’d
put his nasty fingers under my cover once or twice,
said he’d curl-back my toes when I opened my eyes.
Maybe I was delusional. Each afternoon, the aide
(as efficient as ever), sanitized my room, wiped
the bed rails, replaced toiletries, pulled, patted,
and fitted the clean white sheets. Whenever it was time
for a sponge bath, I would count bodies again.
But one night, I caught my boyfriend in the city,
at his (our) favorite club. I grabbed his boozed
housebreaker by her smokestack of hair, knocked
her to the ground, stumped, spat, halved her
with a 10-inch switchblade, till my big toe moved.
Isaac Black, a MFA graduate of Vermont College, has published in journals like the Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Quarterly, and Spillway. Founder of a major 501(c) college help organization, he’s been awarded the Gwendolyn Brooks Literary Award for fiction and Broadside Press Award for poetry. He’s also been a Pushcart nominee, and recipient of poetry fellowships from the New York State Creative Artists Service Program (CAPS) and New York Foundation of the Arts.

Categories: Mental Health, Poetry, Themed

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