Always wanting the sugar

“…so that those bodies are in motion…, moved by blows
that remain invisible.” ~ Lucretius, “On the Nature of Things”

The morning you notice, stepping out
of the shower stall, the strange
bruised color of your pinky toenail
and you begin combing the internet
for what it could mean, then checking
symptoms off: not yellow, no bands, no
cracks, no pain, therefore probably
not fungus; dark mauve, not inky purple,
but how to tell if or if not diabetes,
as you couldn’t remember anyone or anything
landing on it, no crashing piano leg,
no giant moving box. The doctor writes
a script for an antifungal anyway,
something to apply like a clear
nail polish, with instructions to keep
the area clean and dry. And isn’t it
funny— one little thing like this,
and every last slice of cake
in the fridge, every two-week
old cookie in the tin suddenly
calls your name, how so much
sugar suddenly seems to surround you,
the smell of it lofting up like a cloud
from the glass cases holding old-
fashioned glazed donuts and scones
though you promise yourself
you’re only going to get coffee
with a splash of soy. Your former
student posts an Instagram
of a waffle cone packed with matcha
ice cream and berries, but you look
down at your little toe sending
discreet warnings through the lattice-
work of your sandals, and you let it
talk to you— You let it remind you
that butter is melting and lovely
until it rubber-coats the sides
of your arteries, that loaded
fried rice bowls topped with an egg
every morning will do you in, if not
one way then another. You want
to be around for the last child’s
graduation from college, and heck,
what about her hooding ceremony
at the end of grad school? You want
to finally learn to cleave through
blue water and stay aloft, to dive
down and see what coral looks like
before the whole world bleaches
to the color of bone; to walk
weeks, maybe months, through trails
in the Pyrenees to that church
where a star is buried in a field, to see
the fires of lanterns lift thousands
of wishes through the skies in Chiang
Mai. You love all of it, the large, unruly
appetites that are so hard to quiet,
that start somewhere else other
than the mouth and lead the bees to the clover,
that drip from their bodies into the hive,
though you don’t know anything, really,
beyond certain moments on a grainy
cellular level: how they shift constantly
and rapidly collide, all these little
specks, trapped in their cells but glittering.

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