The First Lie

When my coworker asks, “How are you?”
I know she really means, “Hello.” Period.
It’s a greeting, not an opening
It’s not meant to be inquisitive
Though the question mark hangs there:
a crooked, crippled body, like mine

I wake up today, but just barely

I wake up every day feeling like gingerbread
Stiff, brittle, itching to run away from life
but determined to offer something sweet
Coffee softens these stone limbs enough
that I can crank myself out of bed
and into a river that licks its lips at me

I wake up today, but just barely

I swallow a circus of pills after struggling
with twist lids and the buttons of my shirt
My fingers feel dainty and helpless
but without the preciousness of both
I brush my teeth, waiting on the medicine
I drive to work, waiting on the medicine
I sit at my desk, waiting on the medicine
Everything aches, until it doesn’t anymore

I wake up today, but just barely

I want to tell her this, that against these odds,
I am here. I am still here. I am still here.
I don’t mean in this office building
I mean in this pain, trudging through all the
“Good Mornings” and “How are yous?”
Biting back a truth that tastes like aspirin

I wake up today, but just barely

If I told her this, she would pretend to care
then gobble me up like the fox in the story
I know this like I know the rain will come
I can feel the certainty in my bones
Instead, I say, “I am well.”
It is the first lie I tell myself today

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Black and white photo of a young woman with medium-length dark hair and glasses. She is in a stooped position alongside a large statue of a roaring lion. Her right hand is in the lion's mouth.

Black and white photo of a young woman with medium-length dark hair and glasses. She is in a stooped position alongside a large statue of a roaring lion. Her right hand is in the lion's mouth.

LANNIE STABILE, a Detroiter, often says while some write like a turtleneck sweater, she writes like a Hawaiian shirt. Works can be found, or are forthcoming, in The HelleboreKissing DynamiteCauldron Anthology, Likely Red Press, and more. She is penning a novel and chapbook and holds the position of Project Manager at Barren Magazine.

 Twitter handle: @LanniePenland 

Writer website: https://lanniepenland.weebly.com