sometimes i wish i felt the side effects

but there is no proof but proof
no mark but the good news

that there is no bad news yet. again.
i wish i knew the nausea, its thick yell

in the morning, the pregnant proof
that in you, life swells. i know

i’m not a mother, but i know what it is
to nurse a thing you want to kill

but can’t. you learn to love it. yes.
i love my sweet virus. it is my proof

of life, my toxic angel, wasted utopia
what makes my blood my blood.

i understand belle now, how she could
love the beast. if you stare at fangs

long enough, even fangs pink
with your own blood look soft.

low-key, later, it felt like i got it
out the way, to finally know it

up close, see it in the mirror.
it doesn’t feel good to say that.

it doesn’t feel good to know
your need outweighed your fear.

i braved a stupid ocean. a man.
i waded in his stupid waters.

i took his stupid salt & let it
brine my skin, took his stupid

fish into my hands & bit into it
like a flapping plum. i kissed at

his stupid coral & stupid algae.
it was stupid. silly really. i knew nothing

that easy to get & good to feel
isn’t also trying to eat you.

knew what could happen. needed
no snake. grew the fruit myself.

was the vine & the rain & the light.
the dirt was me. the hands drilling

into the dirt were my hands.
i made the blade that cut me down.

but i only knew how to live
when i knew how i’ll die.

i want to live. think i mean it.
take the pill even on the days

i think i won’t survive myself.
gave my body a shot. love myself

at least that much. thank you, me.
thank you, pill, seafoam & bland.

thank you, sick blood, my first husband
dead river bright with salmon.

More Poems by Danez Smith