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by Kathleen Paul-Flanagan

"Maybe you need meds,"
he says.
"Life is complicated.
We aren't getting any younger."

"We agreed."
I remind him,
"that the world is
so fucked up because
everyone is drugged up
and numb."

"Think about it,"
he says.

And I do.

As I clean our bathroom
I think,
I'll be damned
if I'll go through life
like a Stepford-Zombie wife.
I want to feel.
I don't want to wear
any masks
other than the ones
I have made out of my own
exaggerated reactions.

In childbirth classes
they told us
you must experience
the pain
to feel the joy.

I mop with a vengeance
I will roll with whatever
Life throws at me.
I will not sit down
in a drugged haze
and fail
and die.

I'll howl with anger.
Cry out of frustration.
Laugh until I pee.
Smile until the crow's feet
trench deeper into my skin;
I'll lie around on a rainy day
and bemoan the gray clouds
but I will not
give up my emotions.

As I clean the small shelves
in our medicine cabinet
I find a tiny baggie
labeled Paxil.

His name across the top.

The tears come and I let them.
I cry until there is nothing left.
I sit there long enough
for dry salty lines
to form on my face.

And that's exactly how I want it.





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