Josette Torres

This is Not a Moment I Can Show You

                for Aaron Hoover

I package up late November in a fresh box
and ship it back home. Here’s what I couldn’t
say, the note inside reads. Here’s what really

Christmas is a holiday other people celebrate.
I took enough cold medicine to stun a barn, yet
I was still standing—okay, merely sitting, with my
tea and my orange juice and my soup. I was

breaking down into liquids. I was breaking
down into base elements. My voice was on
extended vacation and I’m left with what I see,
what I can’t feel, this empty chair I’ve left

next to me so you cannot experience it as well.
I brought you a Barbie doll metaphor and placed
it at the next table for our entertainment.
Remember when we went to the library in search

of books for our presentations and one of our
classmates stopped us and upset our worldviews?
Wait—you weren’t there for that either. Just me,
a stack of books, and her offering of unsolicited

advice. Just another gift I retrieved from the floor.
We’re a year past that now. I’m gaining distance
like a cross-country train. Here’s my attempt at bridging it.

Blank Verse While Under the Influence

Late night—I’m shivering beneath black sheets,
the heat cranked to eleven. Drafts settle
in the living room like smug cats. No more
than five painkillers left in that tiny
bottle. How can I develop a drug
habit when I keep running out? I can’t
keep falling up staircases forever.
Shadows on the wall recall the X-ray
room from two weeks ago. Fake cobwebs stuck
to cabinets. The lab technician’s badge
brushed my calves as she wrangled those monstrous
machines. I gripped the sides of the table,
fought panic, turned from that side to this side
when she asked. She needed one more angle,
she said, and I turned again, twisted like
a discarded straw, held her required
pose until the buzz of the machine stopped.
Seventeen pills later, the fear will not
go away. I wake dreading the return
of this pain. These aches are like bad karma
doubling back like a boomerang in flight.

Josette Torres holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Purdue University. Her poems have been published in Star 82 Review, The New Verse News, Artemis, and elsewhere. She is a doctoral student in cultural thought in Virginia Tech’s ASPECT Program.
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