Stephanie Kendrick writes from the hills and valleys of northern Appalachia. She lives in Albany, OH with her husband and son. She writes, trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and works as an SSA for children with developmental disabilities. You can find other work by her in WOAP Women Speak: 10th Anniversary Collection; Not Far From Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio; Essentially Athens; WOAP Women Speak 11; and Ghost City Review.
Allergic to Reaction
Two swigs of my son’s Zyrtec
and one cup of coffee later
leads me to remember
that the word “balance” is a mirage, and my head
is doing this weird thing kind of
like floating under the weight of a brick.
I make a solid attempt at counting
the number of birds I hear singing near and above
my yard and I think I counted 6 different songs
before I noticed the cicadas
and stopped hearing everything else.
There is not a sound of one bird that I am able to identify,
even when blends of chemicals are not
making my front lawn pulse like the sea. Yet,
I can name just about ten to fifteen
different fluids that when sipped and swallowed
make me feel
like I can fly. This is not spiritual, but
it’s not all bad, either. The more that goes in,
the less comes out
and I barely ever have to buy tissues.
I have neighbors
who hang bed sheets
over the windows in their homes,
shielding the rips and stains
on the mattresses from wondering eyes.
Under feet settles ash and dirt, then
two fingers covered in spit, swab
from floor to face leaving streaks
underneath the circles below their eyes.
This is war
paint to keep those away who look
Babies tip bottles up to supple lips,
sucking fizzy nectar
like hummingbirds– wings moving so fast
you can’t see them,
but they stay exactly where they are.
They may get the hell out after the last drop,
or fly into a window whose streaks they cannot see.