Migraines Come Slow

Not like Florida storms, sharp in the sky like an arrow. Not like the late summer light I cut with thick blinds. The migraines start cool, then numb. Then the throb. The pain. In the shadows, I write. The words come backwards, like how the morning glories curl now that they’ve run out of bodies to climb. Migraines and shadow work are the same—they make me say things I don’t mean to say, like, I need to buy spaghetti before summer ends today. They make me say things I really mean to say. I want you. My voice stretches the words long like when I was sixteen, tipsy with cheap red wine at a Greek club, downtown Clematis. Your teeth on my throat. Why do I think of him now, as I peel the papaya to reveal its sweet flesh. Why do I think of the freckle on his collarbone. My mouth surrounds it. Sucking. I think this headache makes me think backwards. It makes me reach for the piña with my left hand, makes me finger the tough leaves and imagine his hands squeezing my hips so tight they bruise. How you tremble under my tongue. I once wrote a poem about God slicing open a papaya and now I think of when sex used to be holy, when an orgasm could bring you prophecies from the lips of temple prostitutes. I try not to moan but it’s hard. I’ve never read his cards. If I did, I’d light a hundred beeswax candles with rose oil on my wrists. Then I’d spread the deck in a spiral. I wonder which ones he’d pick. The Lovers. Maybe the Ace of Cups. Maybe Temptation. I always curl my toes at the end. And just like that, the pain dulls. I peek out the window, wincing only slightly at the light. I pull the string and let the shadows out. Your chest on mine, sticky. Breath slowing. And I think I can stop now. Saying all the things I mean to say.


Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is Mexican-American poet and painter. Her first collection will be released April 2018 by Green Writers Press. You can find Raquel on her website: raquelvasquezgilliland.com

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