the sights of 2017
the grey sofa covered in grey blankets, and grey me lying there greyly
a purple laptop with flickering screen, nestling amongst white bedclothes
a piano covered in dustsheets
plants at the end of the bath, fronds dangling near my toes
the glaring bright of the bathroom light: an attack
my face in the mirror, a white death mask
and smoke rising from a cauldron.
the sounds of 2017
the cat chirruping in pain, then scraping the floor with her claws
strange rumblings from my internal depths (and once, I thought, a beep?)
crashing and buzzing as I was trying to sleep
my heartbeat throbbing in my left ear
bath water running and draining in a near-constant cycle
the toilet flush
the unwelcome doorbell
the buzzes and beeps of hospital machinery
and finally, at the end, my voice: able to sing again.
the smells of 2017
two bodies: one human, one feline; both saying “something is wrong”
my senses switched: flowers smelled like rotting meat
anything not bland was overwhelming
but now, in December: palo santo to clear the air.
the taste of 2017
my tastebuds misaligned
water tasted like goats’ milk; chicken like mangoes
nothing was as it seemed
and I lived in a topsy-turvy world where up was down
and what should have stayed down came up.
at last, in December, it returned: the ability to taste correctly
and I had my first cheese this year: a melting roquefort
and my tastebuds near exploded with pleasure.
the feel of 2017
skin burning like it was on fire, not wanting anything to touch it
insides twisting kamikaze-style
and I tried to twist myself to their shape to lessen the pain
slipping under the skin of the warm bath water again and again
hoping it would help.
holding a hot water bottle and not caring if it burned
because the outside burning numbed the inside burning
for a bit at least.
needles piercing my veins, giving and taking away
strange medicinal concoctions coursing through me, temporary relief
a fuzz in my brain from all the pills
and fevers and retchings and chills.
the bathroom floor cold as I curled up on it
scratchy towel against my face, too exhausted to care.
my insides rushing outside, and just when I was sure there was nothing left,
rushing some more.
but finally, in December,
a welcome emptiness I’d never felt –
who knew you could so keenly feel a lack of pain? –
summed up mainly in two simple syllables: