Sean William Dever
Three weeks after being discharged from Children’s Hospital I lie on ground as my mother weeps and my father stirs sugar into orange juice, ready to pour it down my throat. I lie on the floor and my jaw shakes, like how you shake when you’re outside in Albany, NY on Dec. 30 without a jacket. The doctor, on speakerphone is yelling (not a good sign) that they need to shoot me with a Glucagon, and that there isn’t time. Is he responsive, she asks. To that I must reply that I can’t reply – my vocal cords are sewn up with fear. My left arm begins to spasm and slap the wooden floor, as pupil overtakes iris – the colors go out.
Everything is black and white, and my hands appear transparent, the previously red kissed tips of my fingers are void of color. No one ever tells you that. Before the lights go out, the colors dry. You begin to scratch and claw at the ground, to feel the pierce of wood chip under your nails, but the nerves are numb. I think I may have begun to cry but couldn’t taste salt. “Convulsing” or “seizing” doesn’t do it justice. You lose yourself, your mind gives in and your body takes over, like a dance. A dance you don’t know, but your sick body knows – it’s practiced when you weren’t awake – while you slept it learned the harmony. And when your body slaps against the hardwood floor and your chest lurches forward and cracks a rib you know that your mind has taken the backseat, looked out the window, and shut its eyes. I try to look at my parents, the sounds of the ambulance dances in my inner-ear, the juice bubbles out my mouth, try to swallow, too dry.
The nail on my left index finger is fractured
blood paints what’s left the perfect shade of red,
the perfect shade of comfort
as I rock myself on the toilet seat
biting the remainder down,
tasting the base on my lips
sucking the pale tissue like a toddler.
I rip my shirt off, fuck the buttons
I haven’t the time for meaningless things
like these – things that are neither functional
nor practical – tell me why I need to contain this disease
when my blood is begging to pour out the tips
of my fingers, the holes of my infusion sites,
the divots in my body, where needles have made home.
I offered to give blood back in the 8th grade
but was told that it was poison.
At 14 I was informed my veins ran deep with sugar
maple-thick with infectious diseases.
At 15 I wished to pour myself a glass of it,
swish it around my mouth, sift it between my teeth,
and smack my lips to dye them the ideal shade of illness.
I thought of peeling my eyelids back earlier before work
to drink from the chalice of natural life, or lack thereof,
burn my eyes to a crisp underneath the glow of static office lights,
cry at the beauty and horror of modern advancements.
There’s nothing more I can ask of my tech,
so I flush these supplies down the toilet
serenade my test strips, insulin vials, PDM, and CGM as they swirl.
My boss knocks on the door
asks when regularity will superimpose my behavioral state.
I tell him to kiss my ass and donate my last check to the JDRF
as I paint the doors to Joslin with my bloodied nailless-finger,
create a gateway to step through, check myself in,
and drown in the chronic air and yellow walls.
Sean William Dever
Sean William Dever is a Boston-based poet, educator, and activist currently in his last year of his MFA in Creative Writing with a focus in Poetry at Emerson College. He teaches writing at Emerson and Boston Architectural College. In addition, he also works as a Professional ESL Tutor at Northeastern University. He is the author of the chapbook, I’ve Been Cancelling Appointments with My Psychiatrist for Two Years Now, forthcoming May 2019, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications.