An Insider’s Guide on How to Be Sick

Never say the words ‘this is not my life’

This pain that wakes you screaming in the muzzle of the night
That woke your lover, chased into another room
into another life
This fevered fainting
This tremoring chest
These lungs like a mangle kite
This panic like a cave of bats
This nurse drawing blood wearing doubled gloves
This insurance doesn’t cover that
This hurried paycheck of doctor after doctor after doctor
This stethoscope that never hears your heart
This hospital bed
This florescent dark
This save your prescription with side effects worse than the disease

This please let me have one month where I read more poems than warning labels
This not knowing what the test will say
This pray pray pray
This airplane’s medical emergency landing
Shame when you can’t walk
Shame when you’re home alone sobbing on another friday night

Say ‘This is my life
This is my precious life
This is how badly I want to live’
Say Sometimes you have to keep pulling yourself up by the whip
Take punch after punch to the face forward
To the head up
And still uncurl the fist of your grief like a warm blanket on the cool earth of your faith
Say every waiting room is the kiln where you will finally take shape to fit into the keyhole of your own gritty heart
To open mercy
To open your siren throat
Say every fever is a love note to remind you that there better things to be than cool
Fuck cool
Fuck every pair of skinny jeans
From the month your muscles atrophied to a size two
Say fuck you to anyone who asks you if you eat enough
Say how do you not know that is so fucking rude

Remember you never have an obligation to fight the hurricane in your chest
Especially on a day when another healthy person suggests ‘you would feel so much better if you would just focus your breath into a Buddha beam of light’
Like that blind is going to miraculously dissolve the knife that’s been churning in your kidneys for the last six fucking months
Say Sunshine, please go back to your job at the aroma therapy aisle at Whole Foods and leave me alone
I know how to help my body

God does not expect me to use my inside voice
God knows how goddamn hard I am working to become a smooth stone
So I can skip on my back across this red red sea
So I can trust deep in my screaming bones
Everything is a lesson
Lesson #1 through infinity
You will never have a greater opportunity to learn to love your enemy than when your enemy is your own red blood
A truce is a word made of velvet
Truce is a word made of velvet
Wear it everywhere you go

Bandage the window where you screamed at the mountain for forgetting your footsteps
Trust that mountain is climbing you
Especially on the days you inevitably want to avalanche everyone who loves you
When you can’t walk from the bed to the bathroom without clenching at the walls
When you can’t imagine you can fall to pieces in another’s sturdy arms and still be seen as whole
Remember, the universe only became the universe when it shattered into dust
And that shattering is the one thing you can always trust enough to tell you
the truth is so quiet
you may never have heard it without a stethoscope pressed to your chest

That is to say in the house of your compassion its possible illness will be the landline
And its how you will begin to hear the world clear as a pin dropping
The downpour of its eyes
The long quarter of its broken throat
On my most broken days
when my faith is a willow and the pain has nothing but an ax to give
The only thing I want than to die
is to live
Is to live to hear my neighbor play his music obnoxiously loud
To get cut off in traffic fifty more times
To get broken up with while standing in line at the DMV
To have another doctor drive another needle into my skin for the hundredth time
So I can say, for the hundredth time, that needle is the needle on a record player, Doctor, everything and I mean everything can learn how to sing

–Andrea Gibson

 This is one example of making something creative of pain and illness. It might even tell your story. It tells mine.





About lana1967

I'm a Southern girl at heart who wants to build a community of people who believe they can change the world with words like "love" and "freedom" when they become more than words, but actions in our work and our daily lives.
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