“It’s going to hurt”

It’s going to hurt
You know this
So you drink tea in the morning instead
of an entire carafe of coffee

Like a vampire, your skin cells burn
on their first sip of the sun
The ringing taste of green tea or whatever
the fuck kind of tea this is

Describe to me in detail this so-called purification ritual
I can’t
I’ve never done it before
My cells are exploding into a wasting lament
This is the last time you will ever write
yourself through this
On the other side of this swamp of dark water, a plane will crash
The lone survivor will speak on the radio
as you drive down Highway 27

In the middle of Florida in the middle of the night after you
step off the plane you see the swamps morph
into the mountains of your childhood
They raise their heads like giants
The Sierras stare; do not go there

“Brave soul,” says the radio
“Beauty,” says the radio
“It had to be like this,” says the radio
“Difficult,” says the radio
“Now you’re 44 years old?” says the radio
“That’s right. 44 years old,” says the radio

Continue to drive through hornets and testicular small towns
Some flags raised
Some flags down
The god of the underworld has let you go from his hand
into the empire Floridian
He says you have a pure heart
so pure he cannot destroy it
Some people look pure but they are not

He says he cannot see you destroy yourself so he has let you go
and he will protect you with his anger and melancholy

It will hurt
You know this

All the substances have got to go
Substances don’t flow from your body
They leave with the violence
of an exorcism
Spicer says once a ghost leaves your body
it never returns

“Horrendous,” your sister texts
“I’ve been vomiting all night,” she texts
“Maybe it will be a Christmas baby,” you say
Something with no substance surrounds you

More Poems by Sandra Simonds