looking after yourself

(for Sunil)

no man knows me better 

than sunil from unichem pharmacy

each month over there in

the back room,

a swing door,

fluorescent lights,

the poster about how to know

if your passport photo is taken right.

time stops for no woman

except here — 

all slow and sweet, sunil prepares

the needle for my skin, 

filled with things my body needs but

cannot make, saying 

take it easy, this might hurt,

while the wrong-angled profile

shots all watch, wanting 

to get the hell out of there

to a faraway destination

but having not done everything right.

there are so many

emails and so many things to do

and so much that makes us feel

like we are incorrect.

and here i am, in the nurse’s chair

so small and insignificant

in tears over the tiny pain,

about to buy a coffee i can’t afford,

after telling you this story, 

after he draws the needle

out and snaps his gloves shut, 

after he turns and says, slow down, just

for a second, if you go too fast,

it’ll hurt more. if you don’t stop,

life will rush through you too quick —

you won’t be able to 

fully feel it.

-Annabel Hawkins

*Thank you to Annabel Hawkins for allowing us to share this piece. You can see more of her writing here and her website here.*

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