by Emily Rose Cole
He will say strong. They always do. The ending’s spoiled.
Spoiled, too, as I learned today from my doctor, probably my spine.
Or, more technically, my thoracic spinal nerves. In one of them,
my doctor thinks, a lesion. Bright erasure. Corrosive smudge.
(Why do I always want these new eyelets in my brain to suggest
light?) Just a little one, she postulates, pre-MRI. A little one
that could turn python, swallow whole my feet. With MS, it’s impossible
to predict an ending—my checkup tests a catalogue of potential
losses: Balance. Reflexes. Vision. Memory. Strength. She holds down
my arms one by one. Push back, she says, and I do. For now. At home,
unfocused on my work or my country, I prime my abdomen
for injection. The drug burns its acidic promise, leaves its welting,
subcutaneous kiss. Stay strong, my dad incants through the phone.
I decline. On Capitol Hill, the President rises to a paroxysm of applause.