Acceptance is like that finger trap--
you have to relax into it, move with its weaves,
or else you are stuck,
like a swimmer in a rip current,
resistance will wear you down.
I don’t notice until I’m polished, shiny, and worn like the beads cascading
in jubilation down Cross Street after I break
my favorite bracelet against the mural that reads
Welcome to Ypslilanti!
How’s that for irony/ how’s that for a jaded, cynical nougat at the center of the poem?
I bust my knuckles against a concrete wall because I’m one minute behind the parking meter,
Ain’t that just my luck? And the most hated woman in Ypsilanti is walking away from me.
The thing is,
I would rather hurt myself,
and so I do.
I only call her vulture in the story I will tell later.
It’s funnier that way/the way I will tell it.
Nearly in ruins, I can cover any wound in ink
and call it a joke.
I can cover my mouth while crying
and make it look like I’m in stitches.
The quiet night
comes in the form of many stars slowly blurring into focus.
I bought the bracelet because it refracted light in blues and greens--
the beads I gather from the street twinkle in my palm like fireflies.
Tomorrow I will string them together again,
as I do.
Ode to a Broken Rubber Heart, Drowned in the Rain Outside the Bar
Here’s the thing about the heart: I kicked it
down the road a ways, having time to kill
before meeting you for happy hour.
I brought the toy in and set it on the bar
where it leaked its rainy juices,
and the bartender set out two glasses for us,
kindred spirits. We shared
a pitcher on special and the heart told me
about how it used to run on AA batteries,
but now it just runs from AA meetings.
We had a good laugh.
My heart often feels like a ball of rubber bands
poised to snap,
but I did not tell the heart that,
as you were just arriving, rain soaked
and confused about my new friend.
You didn’t want to touch the heart, and I couldn’t
blame you. Couldn’t make you feel the moment
surrounding us, sanguine music and strange chatter.
Couldn’t stub out the cigarette you used easier than air.
Couldn’t make you flinch when
the heart lobbed itself onto a barstool and said
the next round of shots was on it, a $20 bill
sprouting suddenly from its left ventricle.
We both reached for the numbing agents
and I am not sorry for inoculating my skin so when
it tears I can be ready, so when scabs grow I can pick
them absentminded in the car, watching myself
from the backseat, so I can tell the rearview mirror
to do as I say, not as I do. Two lights shrinking
back into the night: me and you.
Here’s the last thing: I have already lost it, the heart.
It was a mistake to underestimate the rubber thing
to be less than a metaphor for everything missing,
and so it must be gone from me
to mean anything at all.
I have revenge fantasies involving vaseline on the handles of all your doors.
I don’t want to kill you, only scare you into doing what I want.
A warning shot.
A doe and her fawn study me as I walk by on a path,
And she could kill me, but she doesn’t.
She has more mercy than me, wishing me well,
And asking, curiously, “what are you afraid of?”
I almost say, “myself.”
(KD Williams is a nonbinary writer. They teach at local colleges and received their undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. They earned an MFA from Stony Brook Southampton where they received the Stony Brook Short Fiction Award. Their work has been published in The Southampton Review and other publications.)
Bird Song in my Pediatric Office
COVID Pandemic, 2020
Canaries should sing
their voices surprising
from beings so small
It is what I love
unafraid and clear-eyed
they tell us
what we hadn’t thought
some more crow
I coo, dove-like,
encourage the chatter.
might trill and call,
the hawk’s view
on impending storms;
by shiny bits
they collect like
But lately instead
I hear screeching
or worse than that
Driving my son to soccer practice
Remember that park,
where we used butterfly nets
to catch dragonflies?
I envision fragile wings
by eager hands,
My heart would not have
It sounds lovely,
We did, he insists,
I dream about it:
and yellow flowers.
We had nets,
a gift meant
to tickle a child’s
entice him to chase
he never ran after
that particular magic.
He would have played with mud,
drowning shoes and pantlegs
making sun-bright spray
kicking the water,
Now he is twelve
and though we drive
to and fro
after a different dream,
his thoughts rarely escape
I want to say
but no, my son,
I only gave you tools
What you capture
is your own
(Claire Unis MD MFA, is a pediatrician and author of several published personal essays. I earned my MFA while in medical school and now teach literature and writing classes to my fellow physicians as part of a clinician wellness program aimed to counteract burnout among my medical peers. More information about me is available on my website, www.claireunis.net.)
Lost and Found
On a day in my life
as I wandered around
I discovered a window
that said Lost and Found.
“Excuse me.” I said.
“My fingers are crossed.
I hope you can help me.
My self has been lost.
I once thought I saw it.
It can’t have gone far
But it’s straggled off
and it’s truly bizarre.”
“What does it look like?”
the nice lady said.
“I just can’t remember
but I know that it’s fled.”
With a sweet helpful smile
she reached for a shelf
and picked up a limp rag.
“Could this be your self?”
With a cursory glance
a quick recognition
I knew that I found it
and accomplished my mission.
“Malnourished,” she said.
Please feed it a feast
you’d better take care
before it’s deceased.
You’ve spent a long time
as a wandering searcher
but now is the time
to coddle and nurture.”
I took my limp self
Held onto it tight
and made it a promise
no sorrow or fright
I fed it and loved it
we learned how to play.
It grew brighter and happier
with each passing day
The crisis averted
it’s just oh so grand
as me and my self
skip off hand in hand.
The Beautiful Space-