Anxiety Poem – The Sweat

The Sweat is an anxiety poem, a picture of what it can be like panicking for no apparent reason whatsoever.  Over time, I’ve learned to sit it out and let it pass.

The Sweat – Anxiety Poem

It is in a crowd it comes or when I'm sitting opposite a starling. 
A dusting of dew skimming my palms 
and pearls raining puddles into my armpits.

Every time the bees swarm around a fledgeling bud,
he rises, she speaks, their mouths broader than a field of snow,
dogs lapping and cats glueing themselves to the stove,
and I freeze in a mist behind a veil, behind bars, the air
paper-thin smouldering on my dry tongue,
bubbles would be wasted if I tried to cool it. 

It came first as a perspex sheet with jungle drums inside,
earthquaking the sapling, twigs laden with snow to snap
but for the warm spring breeze and little birds
twerping the bone-caged thumps away. Through feathers,
the light comes or when I smell scented skins, shiny hair,
polished shoes or when I make out 
how brewers fill bottles to the brim and cap them.

I measure the length and width of the room, I pitch lips
and juxtapose necks, I look down, thief caught-out 
no checkpoints only wagtails flapping inside,
I see fat-print advertisements through glass-harboured water,
fingers clutching at down and plumage
from behind a wearing perspex sheet.

Every day then it comes
in the minutes between teleporting and flaring,
when tinned in the tube and everyone disappears, 
as the drumming deadens and your skin weighs an ocean, 
scales flaking fins shaking and gills clogging
press pause and tuck your tongue behind your front teeth,
this is where and when it goes.

Some of my life, my river ran midst through the field, its bed
nothing but dry rocks and sand, 
meadows flooded, flowers drowned and in between
a rainbow no one can scale. If you let it, the earth will
come to meet you, and your brothers and sisters,
laden with strawberries and mud, 
sun and rain,

if you're all here long enough. And then, it won't come.
Or maybe it will puddle elsewhere or home with eels and trout,
skipping from the cave of a mountain to the bottom of the sea.
brushing distances aside between man, woman, and beast. 
In the sun, it glitters and goes,
rare pearls spent feeding everyone
close by.

Where rivers border muck and at the point where they get eaten by  
lakes and oceans, we sleep as the water undoes our fretting,
our frame now cradling 
fibres and twigs
pepper and salt
inside
our pause.

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Written by Anita Alig

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