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Family History

Lately, when I cannot sleep
I catch myself trying to inventory injury:

My mother as fracture and seizing,
as the snakes beneath her belly
that hissed holes in themselves,
as weariness that never seems
to leave her even after rest.

I log my father
as sunken lung and lacerated brow,
as miniscus gnawed by a wolf of bone,
as arthritis and achilles,
as apnea,

brother as gout and tension,
sister as cracked calcaneus
in her tiny foot,
as body and brain
betrayed by birth,
and further back
the lungs of grandfathers
and a grandmother’s heart.

Here are my own contributions:
gallstones and poison
that ground up my gut,
panic wails in my throat,
wheeze and night sweat,
and under it all, a deep unsettling,
a squid in the murky gulf,
suckers fanged into my ankles
until I grow tired
of kicking towards shore.

Here is why I record this witness
of wounds: I remind myself
that even all these traumas
cannot frighten off laughter and love.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.
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