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Sommer Sterud

Inflammatory Brain Disease
For Al


We all felt a little off that day. I too had trouble
spooning up the Cheerios. Arrested by thirst
and a need to urinate, I wanted to wear paisley.
How could the body betray the brain? Is a sense
of humor genetic? I hold his head to drink
and steady his waist. We felt off for sure.
My legs stiffened. Vertigo struck. I punched
pimentos from every olive, knowing safe
and sane are not the same. I imagine
his blood raced to see who was sleeping
in his head. Stunned by the stranger, he cycled
through his body, mouse in boarded maze.
Maniacally, I spouted trivia. It takes a tablespoon
of water to drown.  We were way off. Or maybe
it was our horoscopes. Still, it was good to forget
and eat everything with chopsticks. He looks drunk
in the moonlight, swaying, eyes too wide
for the size of his thoughts, thoughts too narrow
for the expansion of his mind. I loosened his tie
and prayed for the rain not to choke us.




You fry yucca, the cabin
a thick coat of oil. I am sick
from the smell. At the table,
we are continents connected

beneath one ocean, barely
holding hands. I once learned
to stand anything. The universe
helped me. Now, I drown out

of water. Little by little, I shed:
my back and chest peel. It must be
the water or too much sun.
I don’t
tell you it’s my leaving.

You offer a blade of aloe.
It seeps, but I’m too weak
to cut its skin any deeper,
and I hate being sealed

in lotion. Tomorrow will be
seven years here. I search mirrors
maniacally for my new taste buds;
I check the mail three times a day.


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