Jessica Bowe

Coughing coughs,

Like the struggling cries behind teeth

from Anderson’s Speak. It’s funny,

how the words get caught in the back

of your brain while you get hammered

from every direction because no one knows

what eats you out of your skin at night.

People you love look at you like they’ve known

you all along, but if they did, they wouldn’t

be looking at you at all. You don’t tell in fear

of what would happen to the life you’ve built

around the omissions. You look at the mirror

and see a mono-toned shapeless face looking

for a way around the truth. There is no way.

Just pull the covers over your head and block out

the light the rest of the world will bask in.

One day someone will come along with shears

and snip the thread that weaves its bars between

your shaking lips – the world will not fall

at the sound of your voice. Let go – speak.