What’s Bugging Her – Hester L. Furey

Hester L. Furey
 
At the train station a small sting on the face
only a month back would have sent her
into panic, guilt, and shame.
Today she rubs it and forgets.
The sensation is the same.
No narrative freight now,
to derail her into crazytown.
She examines her experience
like a bug under a microscope,
remembers a day at the onset of madness.
In the bath house, she lay exhausted
under an infrared lamp, naked and wet.
Eyes closed against the light, she felt
water trickle down her skin and knew
it felt the same as the buggy creeps.
A different story kept her above
the drain, kept her sure and solid.
But she could not hold it, lost her grip.
 
At some point bugs entered the house,
real and seen by others. She thinks she had
the world’s easiest change of life, but,
it could be, the crawling skin was, as well,
one last symptom, one last middle finger
raised to the sky by receding hormones
scorching their path back to hell,
psychotic to the end. Also: eczema,
real, place in sequence unknown.
This and/or the real bugs, all.
Three in combination, two. Then one.
A fourth variable: a commonplace of siege,
the deteriorating mind, breaking down,
pulling itself up. She began
to fear the slightest itch, a mite jumpy,
some might say. Any speck, a hair falling
on her arm, a pill in the seam of a garment,
a sensation of dry and burning skin,
wool or cat hair, chafing clothes, a minute
swelling capillary, unreachable,
just under the shoulder blade, none
ever again itself alone, but drove
a freighted train of story and duty,
seemingly brakeless. Dead skin cells
on the computer screen, cat dander, even
common dust spiraled her
into frenzies of daily cleaning.
 
Everywhere she saw and felt more. This,
real bugs, skin irritation, hormonal effects,
all, any two or three combined, or one.
Impossible to see, to know,
when it changed, gradations and borders.
The senses no longer to be trusted.
At what proved the end of the fiery tunnel
she found herself hoping,
gaining purchase, feeling better.
Say it five ways, like old films about AI:
PERHAPS I am only crazy.
Perhaps I am only crazy.
Perhaps I AM only crazy.
Perhaps I am ONLY crazy.
Perhaps I am only CRAZY.
And so she grew well.

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