this is my heart:
a fluttering, wild, untamed thing;
like a dog on a leash, restrained.
is this panic? or worry?
somewhere, a toddler spins in circles,
without worry to dangers of dizzy–
this is my anxiety’s heartbeat.
though there is some comfort
to this mindless spin
because dizzy is just something
i’ve always known
— until a mother’s caring, loving death grip
pulls the toddler back, and i wonder:
mother, where art thou?
at the bottom of holy orange bottles?
Saint Lorazepam, i pray to you,
and sing quiet curses, too,
for catching me in the middle of dizzy fall
or controlling it, and slowing it down
mother’s too-protective hand
like a breeze guiding autumn’s slow-falling leaf
before the harsh reality;
i am crushed beneath boot on hard ground.
my nerves crumble like that: too quick.
this is what’s left of me,
the mess of my anxiety: a crumpled leaf.
the remaining pieces slip
through my fingers like sand,
but there is something sticky in here
that Saint Lorazepam won’t hold:
sap of the fallen panic sticks to me.
and i cannot wash it off with water.
i cannot let it go.
but maybe i don’t want to,
because anxiety is all i’ve ever known;
familiar stranger, cold summer,
winter’s hot sweat, terrible lover.
maybe Saint Lorazepam can’t save this organized mess.
maybe there’s just not enough spark–
somewhere, there is a firefly
caught in a jar:
another wild thing,
held in captivity
and the world gasps
in shock and awe
and disgust and glee
watch the firefly flicker out,
i named her after me.
and Saint Lorazepam,
cursed be, sets the firefly free
but without a light.
somewhere, a toddler spins so dizzy
and a mother looks away.
somewhere, a dog’s leash snaps.
somewhere, the candle to Saint Lorazepam
© Maxine L. Peseke, July 2020
artwork by Katrina K Guarascio
Maxine L. Peseke is a writer, mother, and sometimes freelance editor; she also works closely with Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC, as an organizational assistant. She is currently living in a small Northern Ontario town, transplanted from New Mexico respectively where she originally met each of Saturday’s Sirens as part of the Albuquerque poetry community.
Since the pandemic, she has rejoined the group for regular virtual meetings.