Room 117

Alexis Manrodt

The silk orchid on this bedside table

will never die, never wilt,

never offer any indication of how long

I’ve been lying in this pallid room.

The hours, pushed against these white

hygienic walls, string together like

a strand of dulling pearls. All I want is to

leave this humid state and hug marble,

escape the sickness lolloping in me in waves

Time is only measured by disturbance.

A thousand women dressed in white

loiter and observe me as if I would

otherwise burn myself down.

Never speaking,

only healing me with their needles.

Across the hall, all the darling stillborns

rest peaceful in their beds.

I feel the phantom hunger

of their thousand tiny mouths

drain the marrow from my bones.

And I know what I am becoming —

I have resigned my body to

colorless coats and stethoscopes.

They eat my color