by Jenny Black | December 12, 2023
It’s been weeks since a storm like this—
Paper cups are smooth, flammable, and hazardously placed in my hand.
I am drunk at a party and the music is too loud.
It is creeping up my spine
A static hum that rattles the bones of my inner ear,
Any second now it’s going to happen—
I’m going to make it weird.
Can everyone see
I’m a lightning rod on the roof?
My hair stands on end—
Are they looking? Are they laughing?
Turn my wrist forty-five degrees to the left—
Tuned in and helpless,
My purpose to be struck and never let it show;
Listen as my own voice becomes too charged for safety,
No one is safe with me.
I’m a channel to ground floating unnoticed
As I flood with current and currency. So, where do I put it?
Quick! Get the pliers—
No, the blue ones!
Which wire to cut?
I am no grey cloud, no inky sky,
Too small to tame such a force of nature
As it hammers at my sternum, demanding entry
And exit. There is an itch, magnetic urge
To hold the source in both hands
To stick my fingers into the plug socket
And make you feel, with vibrant force,
How it sets my brain clawing at my skull,
My skin tight with the strain of containing
Such a love for everything that ever was or will be
Because I get to feel this now.
I open my mouth and find no words, only a faint crackling:
This body makes for an insufficient vessel, sparking,
If I could only get right to the nerves—one synapse to another—
You would understand, you would see, and I
I wouldn’t keep shocking people.
But then, you’re all too old and I’m still buzzing quietly
in the corner.
What a privilege, a gift, to be this current’s present instrument
As it blows out my every fuse.
Words by Jenny Black. Art by Isabel Otterburn-Milner.