Off the Shelf
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The Hourglass Leans

The electrodes are more valuable than your mind.
Rounded percentages and minced words cannot disguise
the fact. Your mind is not your own.
The dampness of a sponge replaced by a thin metal plate
roughens the rhythm of your breath.

The surgeon comes in, dread draped over his lips.
Sun to planets — his team — he has no time
for the fragments of his intuition to fuse.
They form a hydrogen haze in a numbing jade outline
sharp against tiles bleached white.

The scalpel inches forward,
scraping for the last scraps of jam
in the jar. For when their lukewarm therapists
and the metallic pink pills fail, they turn to a metal plate.

Your eyes open to a blood-orange sky,
dotted with bluebirds and vultures,
smeared with vanilla and babies’ heads.
Imprinted on the backs of your eyelids are reminders
of the life you chose. A survival chance of 50-50 that turned into
a 40-60 that turned into you-can’t-catch-me

But as the needle sways through your warbling thoughts,

it creaks open third grade,

a yearning for thirty-one more minutes
of Jeopardy. When blankets of fried rice nourished your veins,
and your tongue was not trapped beneath golden gates.

You can see it in the surgeon’s eyes too — the yearning. The hope.
When the blackbird calls, you forgive him.

Rachna Shah (2 Posts)

Pre-Medical Guest Writer

Dartmouth College

My name is Rachna Shah, and I am an incoming pre-med undergraduate at Dartmouth College where I plan to pursue health economics and healthcare reform. I am the COO of Bridge the Divide, where I use my words as a platform for change and responsibility, encouraging and enabling youth to stay informed and active in the political arena. I am also a writer and editor for several literary and political magazines, including Young Minds, The Weekly Buzz, and Her Campus.