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Audio: Read by the author.


That first morning, I remember
          clinging to a table’s edge—
both legs jackhammering the white

linoleum floor tiles—praying for
          my benzodiazepine to finally,
finally kick in. Suddenly,

the sky tore open like a sheet
          of tin, & then the seizure fissured
through me. Suddenly, I was

freefalling, in the way that water
          cascades down & through itself,
the way a detonated building

tumbles down & through itself.
          As in a sort of lucid dream,
my mind split, & I saw my body

writhing in a pool of sweat…
          Yet I was also still aware,
still keeping track of details like

the green eyes of the orderly—
          who knelt beside me, scooped me up,
& carried me back to my room.

And after that, the leather straps
          that held my wrists & ankles to
the bed; the bed I thrashed in all

that night; that night my heart raced in
          its cage; & in between the waves
of fever & delirium,

the singing that was everything.


Michael White’s poetry collections are The Island (Copper Canyon), Palma Cathedral (Center for Literary Publishing, winner of the Colorado Prize), Re-entry (North Texas, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize), and Vermeer in Hell (Persea, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award). His memoir, Travels in Vermeer (Persea), was longlisted for a National Book Award.



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