When the doctor would ask me what my headaches were like
I would tell him they’re like a lightning strike –
Like thunder and a black sky being ripped apart by white light
And a pain in your skin when the hairs stand up on end –
That’s how I describe it.
It’s your heart shuddering in your chest
From both cold and fright
Because, now, the sweat has begun to break
And it’s so uncomfortable – you can’t walk right.
Because you wonder if they are staring –
Wondering if they might
Ask you why you’re limping
And why you will not look them in the eye –
And you wonder if they’ll think you’re broken
If you don’t rise to your full height.
When the fact is, you’d rather be small –
Out of sight –
“Why do you limp?” he asks me.
“I had an operation in my leg when I was five.
I didn’t need the rehab – I was an active child.
As I grew, I never really got into the habit of exercise.
And so, my right leg is stronger than my left, I find.”
“So, why the headache?”
“It’s not the headache – it’s not the leg – it’s not the height!”
It’s the eyes.
The people watching.
The way they seem to just go silent
When I walk by.
Did I rip my pants? Is my zipper down?
Is my underwear on the outside?
Will they see my clenched fist
And think aggression
Are they gearing up for a fight?
They have no idea what it takes
To walk across a crowded space
Without curling up and wanting to die –
That’s what my headache feels like –