SELF PORTRAIT WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Settle down. Say it again,
but not aloud. Settle down.
There is a freeway outside your window
that never stops breathing, but one day
you will stop breathing. Your body
practices in your sleep, suffocates
you awake, arteries fleeing out
toward your fingertips, veins dragging
them back. Your aorta stands in your chest
a ruined skyscraper, full of holes
and leaning and it’s a miracle, you think,
that anyone still lives there. As you wake
it surges and leaks light. As you sit up
it falls against your sternum and throbs
with electrified haywire.
This body is held
together with improvised attention. This psyche
is held together by a distancing you, a pronoun
praying that some other pronoun
maybe feels this pain, too, praying to the god
of precision suffering who presides over
all these little hurts you haven’t yet
thought up names for, praying for the post-post trauma,
praying for sleep,
but not aloud.
BIO: Ralph Bousquet is a poet and gravedigger from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His poems have been published in Narrative and Ponder Review. He has received scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.