Thirst / by Christina Rosalie

The ache feels like frostbite, slowly traveling from the peripheries towards the very center of my chest. It’s the kind of ache that you can’t put a finger on and say “here, take this, do this, it will feel better.” Instead it’s pervasive, a wash of heartache, the color a cloud-torn sky after sunset, muted, when indigo starts to unfurl across the heavens and shadows are black.

I’ve never felt this way before: followed by this unnamed dread, this sorrow, and I keep turning to look behind for the hungry dog of my distresses that hides in the bushes, waiting. I never do. I don’t know where she lurks like a bitch in heat, howling in the middle of the night, scratching at the door of my contentment. In the morning there are splinter’s everywhere and my head’s a mess of fragments. It’s still winter. I keep saying this is the problem. I keep blaming the shivery sliver of mercury hovering below freezing. Ice makes the puddles filmy, and bubbles rise when I poke my booted toe in.

But maybe it’s more. Maybe even with longer days and supple heat and petals this thing will gnaw at me. Some days it feels like I’ve swallowed the missing shard from a pot glued back together, the porcelain pieces pressed so close the adhesive running between them looks like transparent veins.

Maybe it’s this: I dream about breaking clocks. About scattering the numbers and the minute and hour hands across the snow; about leaping from the clock tower and having my fall take forever, weightless, because finally there is enough time.

I wake up and throw myself at the day. I know this isn’t graceful, but animals aren’t when there is a terror or a wound to lick. It’s like I’m always at the edge of the forest with the scent of smoke curling at my nostrils. The days are too short, and at the end of each I am still thirsty.