With Death in My Own Breast
The cracked leather held pain in its divots
of a body full of inclination
to rise, to heal,
to be without struggling to be.
Soundlessly, routines did shift—
a school absence for once unwanted;
she heard thunder
even in the whispers of steps.
Alone in the chair, tension froze painted on her face,
her brain concerned—even in sleep—
of the battle plan for a war won only by
She paid with clumps of hair I never saw fall,
Stopped by shower drains,
Sitting where she once could stand.
I cried when you could not climb the stairs.
I do not understand your weakness.
I wait with death in my own breast,
And bated breath in my own throat,
Prepared to accept survivor status
Passed to me like participation trinkets.
I did not sign up for this game
Or spin the wheel for this feral lottery
That puts me pillowtalking with a serial killer.
Yet you shook hands with the reaper.
Fear becomes a familiar bedfellow
As we debate seven years versus ten
Of capsule poison meant to cure.
I once said “blue” so much it ceased to be a word.
I do not understand your strength.
— Amanda Chiu