Sometimes there’s nothing you can do
by Shannon Castleton
against viruses and bacteria, the nagging pulse just above
your left eyebrow. Sometimes one cell
will explode into billions, the way the Hulk blasts
his button-up shirt off—maybe in the knotted flesh
of your breast, maybe in your brain,
where you keep the word watermelon.
Possibly the chicken pox
will come back to haunt you, in your left ear,
your cheek gone numb as a stone. Sometimes
the fluid of your spine will leak out
and pull your brain down your skull a little. This
is reportedly painful. Sometimes you will be
in the worst place at just the right second and touch
the contaminated shopping cart, host the atom-sized
parasite. I once lay in bed a long time.
A friend stopped by to give me pink slippers. For months,
clouds heaved by, packed barges. I wondered where they went
and if they would take me. I kept saying
pull the hair away from my face. Today
there is only a whisper of pain. The sky
makes me think of hydrangeas.