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in lieu of flowers

by Rachael Gay

in lieu of flowers

i am reading my own obituary &

they have gotten all the dates wrong.

i broke my ankle & the car balanced on the edge of a crumbling cliff road

no guardrails on either side, climbing slowly to get to me.

& after all that it still didn't heal right.

when i can't find my car in the crowded parking lot

i press the panic button &  follow the sound of the alarm until i get in

& still i do not turn it off.

i never notice the smoldering, only the high reaching flames.

in my ears a spiraling fullness matches the level of thoughts

until my brain bursts at the seams an overstuffed pillow beat down by

the tossing & turning of another sleepless night.

i am desperate to cry but the mucus coating my throat is too thick to let sound pass through.

every time a librarian passes by i am afraid they will kick me out.

tell me that my tightly wound silence is still far too much,

reteach me how to shrink myself.  a perfect orb of saliva drips from the corner

of my mouth & reflects rainbow prismatic.

contents of the sharps container arranged around me like a

sand mandala too dangerous to sweep away but just as ephemeral.

i never signed over permission to the universe to use my name & likeness

but it is plastered everywhere i look even the insides of my eyelids.

loneliness is flipping to the index first & running your finger down the left side of the page

until you find your own name & see just a single number next to it.

Rachael Gay

Rachael Gay is a poet and artist living in Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Quail Bell, Rag Queens, Déraciné Magazine, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review and others.

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