“in search of a second opinion”

This poem won Third place in 2-Day Poem Contest 2023

in the lobby, i crave ice-cold masala coke.
the brisk taste of home, bubbles filling
my throat to near eruption. when having
heartburn meant to be human, to truly exist.

in the room, i perch on a plastic-wrapped chair and
clasp my thighs together so hard that condensation wets
the seam of my stiff jeans. i wait for her to come,
fix my face in a kind seriousness that i’ve never felt.

on the chair, i focus on the task set before me:
acing this quiz with the delicate balance of desperation
and deceit to finally be listened to. the conversation,
much like the pain, is gadding—there is no a-ha moment.

i am asked to concatenate the pain that has
defined my adulthood. take your time:
what came first? the cramp or the bleed?
what came last? my wants or my needs?

on the examination table, i squeeze my eyes shut
as cold metal turns warm. phosphenes crack
like peppercorns against the backs of my eyelids,
tiny tears collecting no matter how much i hold my breath.

i trace the syzygy of my belly button, my right,
gnarled and inflamed ovary, and the mole on my thigh
i once thought to remove with a cheese grater. a constellation
of happenstance. can i call this feeling otherworldly?

inside of me, i feel dull prods and sharp pains.
it’s funny how the body squirrels away trauma,
how the brush of a finger tip can let blood flow,
the smell of latex triggering contractions or even a cough.

it’s always the same: take ginger supplements. let out
your farts. regular baths should do the trick. but my bathtub
is not abyssalpelagic, no matter how much i attempt to be
swallowed whole inside of it, it simply cannot choke me down.

at the bus stop, i feel frustration leak out of me,
pool into anger caught by a crinkled pantyliner.
i think that if my uvula dropped straight down
my throat and into my being, it might never land.