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Hypochondria – Atlas

Hypochondria

Elizabeth Morton

We hypochondriacs finger each other’s nodules
like lovers, count spine-knots, freckles,
calliper the bloat of our bellies. 

 

You wear your disease to parties like a
favourite frock, rub menthol on rib-skin,
and calamine on knees. 

 

You recount specialists like old flings, 

their gelid fingers, wedding rings that scrape 

against the bristling of a nipple. 

 

I have been trying to be the better cripple. 

My bedsores are full-bloom, my spittle, salted. 

My halitosis speaks for itself. 

 

Where you twitch, I convulse. 

Where you palpitate, I myocardial infarct. 

My hunch is formulated. The sway in my swagger 

 

is a stand-alone act. There is no time out. 

We monitor our love; scrapbook STIs, 

grope marks, Karma Sutra for aged hips. 

  

In slumber, we play possum – sleep with one 

eye open, one finger on our pulse, 

wait for tumours to lay their eggs 

 

inside our chests, for carcinomas to unfurl, 

cautious as flowers, inside our breasts. 

There is no time out. I am the better cripple. 

 

I can outrun the light at the end of the tunnel. 

 

 

TREATMENT

 

1.

 

my head is full of hammers.

i am a blunt instrument.

my vision is laddered, like

a stocking. through peepholes

i recognise the outline

of a chair, a doorway.

a child in the corner

of the room sucks the

counters of an abacus.

but i can’t see that.

i am doggy paddling away

from myself. and when you are

here i will be everywhere else.

 

2.

 

i want to screw my captors.

they lay me down like a goat

and all i can see are the

sea creatures in my eye juice,

pixels of grey.

they administer the cure

into my left buttock.

and i pray that i will not

behold the white light

at the end of the tunnel.

and i pray that i will not

behold the white light.

 

3.

 

i am the sky. i’m afraid

i will swallow all the birds.

blind, i gulp the silence

for inklings. somebody has

turned on all the lights

in my head. the white light

crushes my thoughts into

straight lines. everything

is oxygen and photons.

i could drown but i’m a

swimmer. i am doggy paddling

away from myself.

 

4.

 

my head is full of hammers.

they lay me down like a goat.

blind, i gulp the silence

for inklings. i am a blunt

instrument. all i can see

are the sea creatures in my

eye juice. somebody has turned

on all the lights. i am sky.

behold the white light.

my vision is laddered and

everything is oxygen.

they administer the cure.

Elizabeth Morton is a writer and sometimes student from New Zealand. She has been published in Poetry NZ, Takahe, JAAM, Blackmail Press, Meniscus, Shot Glass Journal, PRISM: International, Smokelong Quarterly, Flash Frontier and Cordite, among other places. In her free time she collects obscure words in supermarket bags.