Rita Maria Martinez

Like Sylvia

(listen to the poem, read by author)

When the sinus infection returns
and my universe is blanketed in despair
I say that I am turning into Sylvia Plath

to which you emphatically respond
You’re nothing like her, words fueled by fear
as if my utterance will make the unspeakable

unfold. I explain that in journals Plath
complained of recurring sinus infections
to which you blurt—Oh!—sudden release,

brisk exhalation like air escaping a balloon.
Yet, I think you feign relief. Anxiety besieges
you like when we first lived as newlyweds

and I was ravaged by migraines post
hurricane Katrina, relentless pain forcing
us to obtain a script by braving an odyssey

across counties, maneuvering around the fallen—
trees, power lines, dead traffic lights failing to deter
Miamians from driving like maniacs.

Back home I loaded the cartridge and deployed
the blue button, the stat dose pen ejaculating
its antidote into thigh. Despite an elevated heart rate

and the triptan-induced tightening of the chest
I drifted into sleep’s embrace. Later you’d steal
into the bedroom opening the door oh so quietly

checking for the steady rise and fall
of my chest to provide assurance
I’d live another day.

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Trial Surgery Pre-op

(listen to the poem, read by author)

They must shave some hair before inserting four leeds.
I’ve known about this for some time.
I undo my ponytail and let it all hang loose.
What beautiful hair you have, says the nurse
as if a puppy has just died. She goes to work
with the electric razor and takes a little off near the temples.
Next, I flip my hair over my face until I resemble
Cousin It from The Addams Family. She takes some
off the bottom, near the nape. This isn’t so bad, I think,
until I spot the ball of hair on the floor and gasp.
Don’t look down, she cautions
as if I’m a woman perched on a ledge.

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About the Author

Rita Maria Martinez loves all things Jane Eyre. Her poetry collection—The Jane and Bertha in Me (Kelsay Books)—is inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel. Martinez’s work appears in publications like The Notre Dame Review, Ploughshares, and The Best American Poetry Blog. Her poetry also appears in the textbook Three Genres: The Writing of Fiction/Literary Nonfiction, Poetry and Drama and in the anthology Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish. Martinez’s recent poetry raises awareness about the challenges and triumphs inherent in navigating life with chronic daily headache (CDH) and migraine. Visit her website at www.comeonhome.org/ritamartinez or follow her @cubanbronteite.