Polly Phobic


Polly fears falling
down a flight of icy stairs, fears
she’ll wind up in a well
of wicked chickens, spiders, toads.

Polly knows that germs are lurking
on the surfaces she owns, like an inside snow
of microbes on her furniture. She goes
to sleep standing so as not to feel the choke

from evil sheets. Wakes to creaky knees,
a dizziness of fish and insects. Sits
for a moment, till she notices the dust.
She’s disgusted by contaminants,

disease, being tied up, not to mention moths
and hospitals, large crowds, falling in love.
There is not enough air, or there is too much.
Wooden objects, razors, fabrics, hair, she’s scared

of what is/was. And she knows, not just supposes,
really knows deep in her gut –
there are tapeworms multiplying. She is dying,
something’s up.

(A similar version of this poem appeared in Houston Literary Review, June 07)

Going Under