Phone rings or it doesn’t ring
Creditors, banks, “loss recovery”
If only they’d help me with this grief
Bumper-car belly growing all around me
So thick no embrace can reach the ache
I leave wet sheets in my tear-stained wake
Snot gloms in my raw, red throat
Gummy gagging me til I choke.

I roll over and heave, can’t breathe
Struggle to move against me on me
Ancestral arthritis written on bones
The things that happened that nobody knows

“This is the time we ate brownies in the park…”
“Here are the fireflies we caught after dark…”

Greasy hair in my blurry sight
I dream about it every night
I fall asleep, yet stay awake
Drowsily planning tomorrow’s mistakes

Errands? Meetings? Things to do
Sunrise sky and mood turn blue
I’ve been here before but I’m not sure when
A voice calls: “Good morning! We let you sleep in.
We’ve missed you, concubine, next of kin,
Your warm, red blood means you’re all in.
You’re mortgaged to us ‘til your death
But now just have a little rest.”

I realize it’s hallucination
Bad dream, flashback permutation
Morning’s here, and all night long
I hummed a liturgy of my wrongs

Murmurs in a twilight state
Of being half-dead and half-awake
It’s gotta get better, I don’t know when
For now, I’ll lie here, play pretend

The ringer’s off, machine picks up
Creditor thinks he’s calling my bluff
“I know you’re in there, I can hear you breathing”
It’s the only message I’m receiving.

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As a toddler, Scarlet chanted, “I want to if I want.” That gutsy girl survived to tell the story--in memoir, film, and art.

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