You would take the pain with grace.
You would split in half like an August peach,
then climb into a warm bath. The work
would be quiet and, if not clean, then at least pure.
Later, they would kick loose the bathroom lock,
call your name, bind the edges of your leave-taking
with catgut and medical-grade love. But you’d
be stronger. Livid. Liquefying. Reality
wasn’t even close: you slunk to bed, barely
bleeding. It was your senior year. The next day
(supposed to be the first day
of your afterlife), you helped the juniors
write college essays. Your body was muted
and light and unremarkable: cafeteria peaches
diced and floating in syrup. No one knew.
Nor would they, for years. On your knees
you studied for a French exam, cradling
a battered grammar: Here is
the imperfect. Here is the conditional.
Listen carefully for the difference.