The rheumatologist sizes me up, presses her soft hands into my wound nest of a body, nothing unfurling under her hands like it’s supposed to. My cane looming lilac, my fifth appendage I sprouted from a dream and allowed to fang into an organ, tumorous and in bloom against concrete, shuffling stairwells, flights and stationary things, a stability I forgot.
They draw a dozen vials of my warm indigo blood, streaking crimson against curved glass jutting from the nurse’s blue-gloved fists, my platelets weapons.
Everybody needs me but no one will keep me.
All the tests come back inconclusive : this doesn't make me a mystery, just a stubborn femme, uncooperative flesh spilling into public space, an occupation.
Piss ripples down my palms, I pinch the specimen container, hoist my tote, palm my cane, slip down eggshell-lacquered hall, turn over my bodyliquid, they will run a test and tell me why my hands seize and curl, why pain trickles down from my skull like a rain shower. Stress hormones likely plentiful, obese and without distress.
My face erupts, hideous bloom, long shoals of pock, thighs barely held together by black denim, bursting along veins. I could use you for many things: flotation device, validation. Prop you against the wall while I rub myself clean on your sleeve.
If I were another kind of quill, you would be the first to know, your arms drooping with bags, face falling, head bowed under something heavy. I am poor in homemade croptop, cigarette-burned bookstore tote bag, selling my mouth and arms for books, train rides.
I dreamed I was drowning, body lashed around my ankle, dragging across kitchen floor, smearing puddles of grime, flecks of plastic wrapper and toast crumb clinging to leg. When am I going to decide I have had enough, that I am overflowing? You are a mess of an animal, darting from the light, snarling, making lists to bring up in the trickle of first light.
I keep wanting more, never content with simple: hands in jeans, flickering.
I coax you out with silence, hand extended, palm down, defenses lowered, knowing any sound could provoke bristle. If I bury my face in your hair, when I emerge, you will have loosened, pupils smoothed, hackles down, no longer quivering for escape, moonlit.
When I look again, only edges.