When I was a child, I had enough power
running through my brain, I could have thought in units
of lightning. When the electrical currents short-circuited,
a one-man army would seize my limbs and the entire fledgling city
of my body would surge. Before I thought to be scared of such things,
I knew you only as a superpower despite the wide-eyed looks
of horror when my mind jolted back to consciousness.
My convulsive memory jerked and dragged me around
until my childhood became a false remembrance. Like an absent
but greedy god, I stared off into absolute nothingness until harsh metal
lined my taste buds and I lost my vision, then licked at the bruises
left behind. Before doctors landed on the proper diagnosis,
I spent nights lying in a hospital bed while nurses took
turns drawing my blood like hungry mosquitoes—each midnight feeding
needing my mother to be awake as well. Why don’t you let her
sleep? The early bird will catch every sticky wire wriggling through my hair at dawn.
The word epilepsy entered this 7-year-old’s newfound lexicon,
and hope had nearly burnt out. The problem was given a name. But despite the lack
of capes and masks and saving, it was my superpower all along:
to survive and to live like a live wire ready to shock—
Zap! with just a single touch.
Erica Abbott (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based poet and writer whose work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, perhappened, Bandit Fiction, Brave Voices Magazine, and other journals. She is the author of Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship (Toho 2020), her debut poetry chapbook. She volunteers for Button Poetry & Mad Poets Society. Follow her on Twitter @erica_abbott.