The saline draining into my arm makes me even colder,
my ring tightens around my finger
as I fill up, a man named Mark is rushed
in from the street, can hear the commotion
while distracting a game on my tablet,
it’s raining and he’s drunk—
a kind of checked-out of his body I could never
hope to get. I am so thirsty, I want to try to lick
an ice cube again. Think this time I can keep it down.
They wrap Mark in foil, tend to him like a stray,
doctors repeat his name to keep him awake, I watch
his lithe body through the slit in our curtain, my tiny, broken
brother—opposites but the same. They come for my blood
next, so many tests. I ask for another blanket, a full
liter later warmed up like rolls out of the oven, they swaddle
me, but moving makes my tether pinch, can feel every vein, every
loathsome square inch. I squeeze my eyes shut, picture the woman
from the grocery store, about seventy-five, strappy
dress grazing her splinter-shoulders, ribs announcing
themselves with a voice loud as her bones’ sharp
pitch, silver hair, glass sandals, ballerina arms, I stare
at her, consume her. Hungry as ever. Frantic
my eyes, like they could trip over their envy,
disgust, and desire, race to ogle her basket. What’s the secret?
Oranges and potato chips—nestled together in the corner. I need
more fluid, they hang another bag, not allowed to leave
till I pee, they pump me full, four liters they get to fit. My face
buckles, stomach blisters, eyelids overstep Mark! Mark!
keep hearing my brother’s name. Want to crawl inside
his shell, live under his bridge, blotto, bodiless,
give him my weight in exchange for his.
Jessalyn Maguire is a writer, actor, editor, and filmmaker based in New York City. Most recently she wrote, produced, and starred in the feature film, Maggie Black (available now across digital platforms) about the dangerous and under-reported phenomena of mania in pregnancy. Jessalyn has worked as the Head of Video Content for Accenture’s Health Practice directing, producing, and editing award winning work. Currently, she is producing a feature documentary and writing her next narrative film. You can read some of her poems in The Offing, Crack the Spine, and Mortar Magazine.
Originally published in the FALL 2018 edition of the Helix.