Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

In the 15-Minute Observation Period After Receiving My First COVID-19 Vaccine Dose by Erica Abbott

Erica Abbott Headshot

(4:56 p.m.)

I make a windmill of my shoulder, harnessing all my energy

to lessen the pain later on. Question if I properly maintained

six-feet of distance while waiting in line because it’s been a year


since I’ve been around so many strangers and somehow I crave

to know their stories. If I laid my body down, would my frame

fill the space? Look up at the dizzying-bright gymnasium lights


as the digital clock ticks on and convince myself I will not

have a panic attack while threatening to grind even my jaw

to powder. Wrap straightjacket fingers around my wrist to keep


it from trembling. Check my pulse. Let my mind wander. Sit on the edge

of Lake Atitlán as the lullaby laps carve their path to the shore. Remember

what it means  to break open or apart and be able to tell the difference


between the two. Befriend a crow and accept every shiny gift

it offers. Run my hands over a map and research the etymology

of the universe.


(5:03 p.m.)

Wonder how Eurydice must have felt when the world turned back

on her because the myths only ever tells us how Orpheus suffered.


Make believe a masquerade is more than just a way to disguise

who we really are. Strip away the decaying bones that trap


our organs from playing their sweetest songs. Picture an alternate

reality where bridges don’t beckon the fall, but give rise


to connections this galaxy has only ever dreamed up.


(5:15 p.m.)

Think about the apocalypse


and your lips. Ponder what it would mean


for the world not to end. Get up and get


ready to begin



Erica Abbott (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based poet and05 writer whose work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Selcouth Station, Anti-Heroin Chic, perhappened, Bandit Fiction, Brave Voices Magazine, and other journals. She is the author of Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship (Toho, 2020), her debut poetry chapbook. She volunteers for Button Poetry and Mad Poets Society. Follow her on Instagram @poetry_erica and on Twitter @erica_abbott.


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