Poetry Issue #55

Your Anxiety

thin as a shadow,
masters tripod-
roll for third grade
gym class by practicing for hours
in the grass in the backyard,
wearing a path there,
and, when it rains,
crushing the maroon
carpet in the family room
with the same motion.
Triumphant, she decides
to stick by your side
forever. When you can't sleep,
you balance on your toes
on one side
of the metal daybed frame,
she balances on the other,
and you summersault
through each other,
trading places
all night long.

Your Anxiety Joins the Cast of SNL

She isn't actually written
into any skit, so she makes
her own magic. She peels back
a corner of the wallpaper
on the suburban family room set,
and you can just make out her eyes
moving back and forth over
the married couples' heads.
Their paranoia about the neighbors
watching them feels real.
She wraps herself in aluminum foil
and crinkles along the mirror
at the back of the gymnasium scene,
comically warping the actors' reflections
as they confess their body image issues.
She crawls on her hands
and knees under the white linen
tablecloth in the fancy restaurant
breakup skit, banging into
the man's knees and making
his anger during the fight scene
have a real wounded edge to it.
You glimpse her again in the final
live moments of the show,
dancing frantically
at the periphery of the crowd
and high-fiving herself
over and over again.

Your Anxiety Books a VRBO

She is thrilled and terrified
to be in someone else's house,
where she moves silently
from room to room
as if someone is listening.
She isn't interested in
the view, but spends hours
sitting in the closets,
smelling the cracked
board games and touching
the frayed sleeves
of windbreakers. She slides
under the bed, inhaling the dust
and dog hair. She takes all
the mismatched pots and pans
out of the cupboards beneath
the kitchen counter
and stretches out there,
segmented like the beautiful assistant
in a magician's show,
head in one cabinet,
feet in another,
and falls asleep
on the sticky wood
to the sound of mice
gnawing on the supports
underneath the floorboards.
By Gwen Hart

Gwen Hart teaches writing at Montana State University Northern. Her second poetry collection, The Empress of Kisses, won the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Her poems have appeared recently in Funicular, The Great Lakes Review, and Otis Nebula.