In Their Own Words

Instability’s greatest comfort

As I recalled taking my healthy throat for granted,
A glass of water, half empty, stared back at me, just out of reach, and longingly I looked at it,
Missing what was. Parched, I had hardly a voice to ask for it.
It was that reaching for yet never grasping that I felt most strongly.
It was in everything I did: the stage
I longed to walk across, or that which I longed to perform on.
All those things I had yearned for were in my mind’s eye now, a figment of my future existing
only in my imagination.
It was mine until it wasn’t.
And although I would rather not walk the stage than not have you there to see it,
Life was a melody until the birds stopped singing,
It was a park until the children stopped playing. Happiness,
Interrupted. Any attempts at closure were
Disappointing. But now I see the glass was half full.
We broke at different times; we just missed each other, you and I.
One scare after the other, lonely in timing, unified in emotion,
Each of us was deemed unstable, and there was a comfort in being just sick enough to stay.
Like the virus, we were crashing waves oscillating just out of sync until we both fell.
Myself, literally. Yourself, inwardly.
While we were getting used to change, as much as anyone could,
Greeting us was that ominous masked presence. It wasn’t inside us but all around us – it was
my post-surgery muscle soreness and my sore throat after intubation that became symptoms or
the “precautions” that meant hazmat suits upon entrance of all personnel. It was the nurses,
fatigued but somehow smiling, fluffing my pillows when I could not, turning me over to see
A new light.
It meant being lonely when I got the news of being broken.
But lonely wasn’t alone with whispered music from my phone playing into my ears, soothing me,
or your voice calling me calmingly.
I wonder how your loneliness felt. I know that music was your lifeline, too,
That its waves were oscillating in your ears, lifting you from that fall from such great heights,
Then connecting you, rooting you, to me and that ever-changing, unstable world outside.

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Natascia Ciancibello

University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta

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