inhaled invader
burrows a home
in my chest
& my mind infuses it
with thoughts of death

bits of my father
invade my blood
& are at war
with the mother parts

I remember being five,
sirens wailing a serenade,
beckoning me with bony hands,
& I was on my knees nightly
begging my heart to keep beating

they tell me I’m still too young,
but I know the darkness doesn’t
discriminate, I know that
shrouds come in all sizes,
that pine boxes can be fitted,
that I can blip from existence
at any time, that this
will never be my call

I remember being nine,
learning to lie
about feeling fine,
with a ball of twine
stuck in my tiny throat

I remember alcohol poisoning
at seventeen, & the visions
of my head bursting
on white porcelain tubs, of waking
in strange hospitals, in unfamiliar
bedrooms, in the back of
numerous ambulances

I remember the loss
of higher consciousness, abandonment
of breath in freezing lakes, in dirty
pools, in the one time I dared
to touch an ocean

I remember threatening
my own life, & fleeing from
the threats of others
upon me

other mothers with a worry
line filled with my name,
other fathers without
daughters using me
to save an empty space

where do I want my grave?
all my potential visitors
are scattered so I can
bequeath each one of them
a bone

I feel in my inner being
that I shall die alone

& it’ll be better that way
because no one should
memorize a dying gasp
or hold a cold hand for too long

no one should be haunted
by a body,
spirits are more easily
rid of

I remember the moment
I stopped being afraid of the end

I remember the police came again,
but I heard nothing
but the pounding
of my heart drum,
& I uttered nothing
but praise

January 20, 2022

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Published by Jennifer Patino


33 thoughts on “Thanataphobic

  1. It’s the big one. The one we all want to write about, but usually skirt around. You’re brave to tackle this subject Jennifer. I admire your courage in writing this excellent poem and feel a little braver myself for having read it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, this is outstanding, Jennifer. Although none of us can really know what life has been like for you, you have given us a glimpse of it, and I admire you so much for channeling the trauma so creatively.
        (P.S. I have a friend who could possibly identify with the ball of twine in the throat, only she described it as a “tarantula.” A mystery ailment that would only let up under aggressive prayer.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. check out “Finish Line” by Lou Reed….”I’m five years old, the room is fuzzy. I think there’s also a very young girl. It’s so hard to remember what happened exactly…” 😍😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

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