June’s come back and she’s ready to make us pay.

With a mocking smile, she shows up, laughing at my pleas.
Last year her punishment was mild. We got off easy.

Full force. Excessive heat. It looks like the whole
country is on fire. The sun spreads itself over maps
like the bruise on my arm that climbed its way toward
the numbest parts of my phalanges. It’s been two days
since I could feel that I have a pinky.

They removed the fingers and hands of thieves.
I’ve only taken my leave of functionality
for the season. You can find me sleeping.
You can find me staring into a space
the healthy can’t see. Withering.

A friend asks, Is it weird that the voice inside
my head has a name?
The voice in mine changes
its face every day. No. He thinks we’re the same.
My muddled mouth can’t land softly
enough in one place for me to have anything
left to say.

What’s wrong with a little submission? It’s
a surrender to the inevitable plight. A body
too exhausted to fight. Nothing. It’s your right.

Stripped down. The muscles throb. A caffeine
jolt after three days of suppressed cravings
will make anyone fit for the job of chronic
suffering. The cysts have formed a mob. They’re
gaining traction. Silence is a reliable reaction.

June whips us with a strap of cruel reality.
It’s the only way. The medical team looms
like an oligarchy. How many hands can
we truly rest in? How many fingers
are left to count on? I can’t feel them.
Staring at the sky like it did
something wrong. June taunts us.
Her clutch is tight
and lasts too long.

Published by Jennifer Patino