November is a patient nemesis.
She stretches out her hand and doesn’t move,
just waits for time to forced-march me
into whatever sorrow she has brewing:
cancer burrowing between my father’s hips,
all the birds leaving, the crowning of a man
with bloodied hands and the grin of a child
who knows the insect he tortured will be legless
even after his nanny’s anger has faded.
The cold is a living thing, clutching
unwanted at my skin. As I get dressed, I whisper
prayers between each layer of cotton, wool, and feathers,
but it just laughs as it rakes its nails across my face,
insists into my chest and puts its feet up on the table.
I tell myself I’m too busy to fight for a body
I’m only sharing space in. I stay productive
as my lungs fray, as nightmares creep
along the edges of my rest until I don’t anymore,
only greet each new day from under covers
made of iron and the gaze of a winter I know
is still waiting for me beyond the blankets.
It whistles through the cracks: in my windows,
between my pants and socks, my chattering
teeth. Reminds me I am whole nowhere.
My resistance is to pretend there is no fight. To choke
out a curse between coughs and refuse to skip work.
Last year was straight As and antibiotics, “healthy”
replaced by “useful” on every To-Do list.
Last year illness wired my jaws shut
until all that could fit out was the truth: I’ve been sick
my whole life. I am remaking my resistance. It tastes
like ginger teaand the bitter puff of my inhaler,
sings a space-heater hum and speaks in my own shaking
voice, saying: I need help, and I deserve it too.
ABOUT ALISON KRONSTADT
Alison Kronstadt (she/her, they/them) is a writer, youth worker, and anti-violence advocate living in Boston. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in UGH Magazine, Cleaver, and Bitch magazine, and has appeared onstage at Louder than a Bomb - DMV finals and the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational semifinals. When not writing, they can be found by or in the water, or talking about the ways that trauma and healing manifest in the Harry Potter series.