“Days That Follow” by Mary Paulson

Reading by the author

“We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind”
—Joan Didion

What happens in the days that follow?
The delicate arrangement of my reality fails, structures break, faces sallow.
Look, the sky is shredded! Hurricane-blue, her eyes hollow.

Once familiar things grow peculiar, grow hostile—
that which I once found beloved becomes squalid.
What happens in the days that follow?

Relentless days, one upon the other, without a hiccup, without sorrow.
My blood is stalled, breathing shallow,
I’ve lost my balance, lost my brain, my skull echoes, the insides hollow.

Colors painfully vivid, too Magritte, too Kahlo.
I’m skinned, unprotected. An alien abductee? I feel strange, collared.
What happens in the days that follow?

Doctors, pills, priests, talk therapy, hypnosis, all our love—
couldn’t keep her up when she was going down.
Christ himself wasn’t enough when she was hollow.

Sound is hostile too, with its merciless bravado.
At the wake, the funeral, all that whispering and nodding.
What happens in the days that follow?
How long do I have to live this death, all this rage? I’m hollow.

Mary Paulson’s writing has been featured in multiple publications, most recently in Arkana, Thimble Lit MagazineTipton Poetry JournalThe Metaworker, Months to Years, Speckled Trout Review, and Chronogram. Her debut chapbook, Paint the Window Open, was recently published by Kelsay Publishing. She currently resides in Naples, FL. 

Image: “Aquatica Encaustica 02” by Bill Cawley

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