Tap once on a light switch
And the earthquake will wait –
Kiss a piece of wood, five times, and you won’t go crazy
Tell him you love him three times and he won’t leave you
Pray each time you think of cancer and he’ll beat it
But you are crazy, there is an earthquake, and he does die and leave you
And yet into the night I go
Tapping, kissing, confessing, avoiding, praying
Years ago a doctor asked me my biggest fear
And I said going crazy
He laughed and laughed and said, how do you not see, you’re already crazy
Which is true in the night as I tap, kiss, confess, avoid, and pray
Which is true in a Walmart when I touch each piece of laminate furniture
And at the bar where I have to mentally note each stool
Kissing planks until I have splinters
On the highway, remembering license plates
(Thank god that one’s gone)
I do try to laugh.
Tapping is funny. Kissing, funnier still.
How many times have I hidden a bottle cap
Walked through a doorway six times
Unplugged every cord in the rental house
Thrown out all the clocks
Hidden the knives
I don’t remember what it was like before
And sometimes I wonder if there ever was a before
Or was my life always this,
Tapping and kissing and confessing and avoiding and praying.
These days the moments that feel the most surreal aren’t the panic attacks, nor the tunnel vision, and
weirdly not the things I forgot to touch,
They’re a day I spent in the Schiphol airport, the nights in Sweden or Jakarta or even
Providence, Rhode Island. The job I had in Midtown. The bar I danced in on the lake.
The nights I didn’t unplug the toaster
And kiss the fear away
Jude Townsend is a writer, illustrator, and crossword constructor in the mountains.