hymn to the straining ones

The left hemisphere of my body is slower than the right.
My right hip, right wrist, right shoulder, are all moving
too rapidly for the rest of me. Right shoulder blade wings up.
Right humeral head slips out of socket. Right clavicle
separates at both ends from sternum and scapula. My jaw sags
on the right, old violence lingering in the bone. It clicks back in
every now and then but later falls out again when I laugh
leaving my mouth lopsided and surly. Falls out when my
elderly neurologist taps it very lightly with a rubber plexor.
My jaw remembers fear and chooses flight over fight. My body,
like me, is a coward. Always fleeing from itself. Survival
comes at a cost. My physiotherapist maps the shape of my muscles,
of the tortured nerves. The soft flesh of my thigh spasms
as she speaks to me, fluttering under her hand like a bird.
I am fragile these days. I bend in the wind like a long bough.
Bend, not break. Some days I am taller than others. I rise and fall
like the tide guided by the moon. My neurosurgeon is at a loss
to explain the flotsam and jetsam of my spine. I am a coward
and I try not to think about it. When I sleep the sea pours out
of my ears and nose. I dream that I am back in Stonehaven,
my godmother’s country, watching the long pale masts of tiny
sailing boats shifting eerily in the haar. Manic swings to depressive.
North to south. I am so tired of holding my body together
but I am afraid of the screws and plates that might do it for me,
afraid that I will wake up too early from the anaesthetic again,
afraid that I won’t wake up at all. In the meantime my spine
falls apart from within, C1 through S5 slipping inward
beneath their embattled neighbours at the atlantoaxial joint.
The atlas of my spine struggles to hold up the terrible pressure
of my occipital lobe. One day surely it will fall under the weight,
but until then it bears the burden, endures the strain of living.








Robin M. Eames is a queer crip punk poet who is only mostly dead. Their work has been published by Cordite, Voiceworks, Ibis House, Archer Magazine, and Deaf Poets Society, among others. They live on Gadigal land. You can find them online at robinmeames.org and @robinmarceline.

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