Wait | Dameien Nathaniel

I keep the sad in my feet,
in the body part furthest from my heart,
the body part which is always cold–

I’m told I have bad circulation
and a high red blood cell count
that stops the blood from flowing
as quickly as it should,

so I wear grippy hospital socks,
even when I’m not in the hospital,
and wrap my feet in a separate blanket
from the rest of my body,
hoping for some kind of warmth.

I try friction and hot chocolate,
but nothing thaws this sad.

I keep the sad in my feet
because my brain floats above my head
and the weight of the sad
keeps me grounded.

So when the hospital calls my name for review,
I have something to tether me to the sticky,
just waxed floors as I follow the crisis nurse to a private room.

Private here means so that we won’t be overheard,
but also so that the nurse can keep an eye on me.

They don’t keep pens or cords in the private room.
I’m told to remove my shoelaces.
She asks if I am wearing a belt.

She takes my hoodie and reveals the
badly-taped gauze on my arms.
She takes note of my medications,
Takes vitals and has me rate my physical pain
before starting her questionnaire:

She asks me if I’ve been feeling hopeless,
if I’ve been feeling sad,
and she scribbles down every word of my answer
as I tell her I don’t feel sad,
I am holding the sad.

As I change into a new pair of grippy socks
I look for it, but you can’t see the sad,
you can only see feet,
just like you can’t see me there,
floating, just above my head,
using the sad like a weight for
my balloon brain. She tells me I am
disconnected from reality,

that I’m not feeling right,
and that I’ll have to stay the night.
In the morning they’ll review my medications
and try to find something that brings me back.

She doesn’t specify if she means back from balloon
or back from this ledge,
but she tells me she’ll help me.
She doesn’t say it reassuringly,
she says it because she has to.

And as she walks me from the
always open-doored bathroom
to the always open-doored bedroom,
she doesn’t offer me a second blanket.

DAMEIEN NATHANIEL is a queer, trans, autistic poet from the Northeast U.S.. They recently completed their MFA in poetry from Arcadia University, with their work centering around themes of trauma, loss, mental health, and queer identity. Dameien can be found performing at open mics and slams throughout New England and on Instagram @SpasmOfFeelings.

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