By .

Scalp, corset-tight;
muscles screech
against my bones

Flock of geese
in my chest

Map of the world with its new
and jarring colors —

               I avoid the mental math.

Toxic thoughts,
throat-choke fears

               spinning out

My mother’s lungs —
Weary as old dish rags.

My children,
everyone’s children.

Hands scoured raw,
doorknobs sheathed;

I exhale,
leaving the office.

Repeating mantras in the car;
even logic lunges me sideways.

My tires crunch the driveway;
I conjure a smile,
a perky greeting —

to curb the spread.

About Michelle McLean

Michelle McLean is a former high school English teacher, currently a clinical social worker, and has written poetry for most of her life. Her work has appeared in Quills, Ascent Aspirations, Open Minds Quarterly, Toward the Light, Arborealis, Emerging Stars and Other Voices, and is forthcoming in Lamp in Hand and Joypuke. She is a grateful award recipient in the 2007 Dorothy Sargeant Rosenberg poetry competition for “young writers of unusual promise.” A collection of her children’s poetry placed second in the 2007 Writers' Federation of New Brunswick writing competition, and she received an honorable mention for a poem submitted to this year’s competition. Writing poetry has been both a compulsion and healing process in her life. Michelle lives in Carlow, New Brunswick, with her loving mother, devoted husband and their exceptionally awesome daughters—and greatest spiritual teachers—Sophie and Lily.

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