Liz Whiteacre

It could account for the panic

(listen to the poem, vocally performed by Andrew Durham)

What if Alice woke again? Woke again with the bitter taste of shrinking potion on her tongue, and the White Rabbit beckoned once more? What if you could talk yourself out of a focal aware seizure? Did you ever think about that? Or are you thinking about that rabbit and that bitter potion and crawling elbow over elbow into a dark, gritty hole? Of being lost? Of adventure? Am I talking too much? You know, Alice had questions that never got answered and rapid heartbeats and deep breaths that soothed her confusion. Sometimes. Neophobic? Did you ever think about that? Maybe. It could account for the panic that made Alice pause. Pause and stall before chasing that white rabbit, dressed in his finest. Again. Curious. Heart beating, breath short, each detail cinematic—too much, too bright, you know? Am I talking too fast? No. No. You know, some call it a simple partial seizure. Simple. But, it’s not simple, you know? When I seize—but only partially, like Alice, paused in one moment, caught in one moment—I focus on making the right choice. You know, Alice had choices. She got to choose: too big or too small, this path or that path. Curious-er. Then, curious-er. Maybe I am talking too much? But, we haven’t seen each other in so long. There’s so much to ask you. What if you were injected into a dream, trying to ride a dysphoric, euphoric, chaotic roller coaster, trying to follow disjointed details, forcing a narrative? Did you ever think about that? It could account for the panic that makes everyone pause. Freeze under its weight. The glow of synesthesia. What was that word? No, what did that word taste like? No, what time is it? We haven’t got much time left together, do we? Because, aren’t we late? Late for the terror we know is coming? Maybe in just a few moments. When a director yells “cut!” and our scene, no, my seizure, is over. Did you ever think about that? Maybe we leave the dream, like Alice, awake and shaking. Do you get it yet? I’m trying. I’m really trying. You see, it curious. When I seize—but only partially, like Alice, caught in that moment unable to tell you, precisely, what just happened—the aura starts as a buzz in the back of my head. And, I start thinking, maybe I’m on an adventure like Alice. Just passed in a moment of decision. Taking all the curiosities in. Trying to make the right choice. It could account for my panic. Did you ever think about that?

Listen to “deep breaths”–words by Liz Whiteacre, music by Meadow Bridgham, vocally performed by Andrew Durham–published in this issue of Wordgathering.

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About the Author

Liz Whiteacre is the author of Hit the Ground. Her poetry has appeared in Wordgathering, Disability Studies Quarterly, Kaleidoscope, Breath & Shadow, Last Leaves, The Score, Flying Island, and other publications. Whiteacre is an associate professor of English at the University of Indianapolis. She teaches creative writing and publishing, as well as advises Etchings Press.