Febrile, Passing, & Prepositional

Linda A. Vandlac Smith 

In the midst of global warming,
humans are getting cooler,
not the 98.6 degrees of yesteryear.
In the midst of a global pandemic,
the world has dropped to smaller numbers,
but I am lower still. At my dentist’s office,
a gaunt face fills a thermal screen, and I am
admitted at 97.2⁰ to correct a failing mouth.
At urgent care, I am 96.8⁰, an anagram
of an older self, shorter and eroded.

I bought digital thermometers twice,
thinking the first was broken, never
to sprint beyond the 97⁰ starting block
from beneath my languishing tongue.
The newest measures arterial flare, my
forehead’s own infrared aurora borealis,
same blood that radiates unchecked heat
between sheets at night, just like the
random bubbling methane and halitosis
of deep sleep that, while denied, still rise
into ozone, poking through blankets
of atmosphere as I try to burn myself out.
Linda A. Vandlac Smith 

You ask me about death
expect a rhetorical answer
I suppose the great metaphors
the usual avenues won’t do
perhaps just a side street
the one you grew up on
empty, late at night
a few cars at the curb
parked occupants home
no bright tunnel no transport
to walk toward
just endless streetlights
blinking out as you pass.

Linda A. Vandlac Smith was born and raised in Washington State and currently lives and writes in the Skagit Valley, north of Seattle. Much of her poetry focuses on interpersonal relationships and life in the Pacific Northwest. More than three dozen of her poems have appeared in small press publications such as Permafrost, Pontoon, and Bellingham Review and print anthologies, such as Lavanderia and Least Loved Beasts of the Really Wild West, among others.

“Prepositional” was originally published in DASH Literary Journal, 14th ed., edited by Cody Acevedo, et al,  Spring 2021, p. 381.

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