The Last Bit of the Light

From “The Lullabies Your Mom Didn’t Write for You”

You say that I glow in the nighttime
And that’s all that you see:
A supernova distracting you from reality.

But if that was a compliment, I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean.

I look for stars in the mirror, but all I can find are
Twisted blonde curls. You’d rather call them kinky
I’m a mottled haze of perfume and black heels
Laughing in a bar over the driest ginger ale
Because I don’t drink. I won’t drink.

I won’t eat anything either, but it’s not like I don’t try
It takes hours to drink a smoothie. I can’t tolerate French fries.
And you can ask if I want dinner, but “want” is a big word.
I’ve since recovered from anorexia, but my GI system acts like it hasn’t heard.

In that wasted/sober state, you’ll notice that
You can drag your fingertips over my back to pull
My heart till it sits right against the insides of my ribcage
Dysautonomically pulsating between the cracks
You ask me to stay over, and wonder why
You’ll be alone in the morning? You can’t get me to come back?

Your bed didn’t leave me intact.

And I’m home now. Safe now. Your hands are far away now.
I’m supposed to be okay now
I can think of all the reasons I shouldn’t have stayed now:

Because I
Left my CPAP machine at home and I
Don’t have my night meds with me and I
Can’t wake up that far from my Synthroid bottle
Yet your hand round my neck is a gentle-seeming throttle
You laugh when you notice my eyes going wide
Asphyxiation embodied, with a strongly submissive side
You’re a medical professional, but there’s no way for you to see
That you’re not just controlling the air I can breathe
There’s a pressing, tiny danger hidden beneath your hand
And that’s a TI-RADS 4 nodule on my thyroid gland.

Time bombs keep ticking especially when they haven’t yet been biopsied
So you can tell me to be a good girl. Ask my body to say “please.”
But I’d like my body to ask me nicely, too
Before it strips me of my agency the way you’re making me strip in front of you
And so you’ll wish and you’ll command and you’ll expect me to give it all
But I haven’t eaten in days at this point. There’s nothing I could give you to keep you enthralled.
I’m a degenerate dwarf triggered into runaway nuclear fusion
But you’re the degenerate human who made your own decision

To not let me choose.

As the stellar merger happens, I cannot speak
Your hand fills my mouth now and I can’t breathe
And I want to say no (but this time I can’t)
I’m choking. On orbital decay. My thyroid. Your hand.

This was meant to be kinky. It was just meant to be fun.
But I’m facedown on your bed. There’s nowhere to run.
So you’ll hold me in place and I’ll pretend to fall asleep.
I’ll stay quiet until it seems safe enough for me to leave
I’ll shake when you text me and I’ll try to carry myself through

And I probably won’t tell anyone. Because what else am I supposed to do?
This isn’t supposed to happen again. Not to me. Not by you.

You had said that I glow in the nighttime, but my absence is all you’ll see
Because when supernovae reach peak luminosity
The progenitor sheds the light of an entire fucking galaxy
Before it fades into a black hole. So I’ll leave before you wake.
Because dense stellar masses are the one conceivable place
That stars, cancer, rapists can never escape.

Endless spoonie blood work can feel a blessing
If there is something wrong with me, at least I would know.
But high survival rates don’t guarantee treatment
And treatment won’t give back the consent that you stole.
So come for my sparkle. Stay for the glow
But I’d leave me behind at the end of the show

It takes billions of years to sit through stellar evolution
And it might take my whole lifetime to devise a solution.
You set forth the gravitational collapse of every aspect of my core
But I wouldn’t have done that.
Supernovae create new stars through the shockwave they endure
While the interstellar medium is as tenuous as the chronically ill may appear to be
I’ll paint the night sky with your name so that everybody can goddamn see:

My body is a pile of endless disease but
I’m still the cure inside of me.
You don’t know what I’ve healed through.
You should have never dared to fuck with me.
I’ve done this before. I’ll get myself to eat.
I’ll see specialists and therapists and maybe someday I’ll get some sleep.

And I’ve got all the time in the universe with which to do so.
The fury of the chronically violated will always be
The last bit of the light to go.

© Chapin Langenheim, 2023

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