Self-medicating with St. John’s wort

This is youish, says the man, his finger drawing on my
wrist. My skin instantly tingles altogether. He pulls back,
watery eyes glued to my face. Stomach shrinks, nausea
fills up the nostrils, tongue numb with bile. I cling to a

shred of a braced smile. The finger goes up the forearm,
prodding the little scar I got that July I turned eight, falling
into the cut wheat stems, mapping the arm, round the ball
of the shoulder, slithering along the sweaty neck, past jawline,

pushing its way between the tight lips. Smudging the bitter
taste along the braces, nails scratching the inside, against
the pink rubber bands. In the bathroom, I brush my teeth

until gums taste metal, neon light buzzing in my ears. Years later,
burning lips and mouth numb with tea, becomes a high in the truncated
days, nowhere to hide the piles of dead St John’s flowers in the brass teapot.

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the Translation/International Poetry Editor of The Blue Nib.

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