“Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation” by Katherine Fallon

25 October 2019 on Poetry   Tags: ,


Heather, in your dream my loved ones were dunking and holding me underwater as treatment. Everyone, you say, seemed to believe this was a good idea. In truth, your dream was not so much a dream. 


For a while, fighting extra medication, I attended a water aerobics class. Float belts were provided, but I needed more than one. Even the corpulent men floated better than I did, poked fun. I gave up this therapy, too, then, when it became clear that I will always sink like a penny into a shopping mall wishing pool no matter what precautions I take. I might drown without even meaning to; if I wanted to, I could make that happen on my own. I disrobed, thinking: next


Five days a week, the technician placed a magnet on one side of my skull and a stiff cushion on the other to keep me still for eighteen minutes and forty-five seconds. The machine’s pulse was the life work of a piliated woodpecker, sending my nose, left eyebrow, left cheek into palsied reflex. Sometimes I sported an Elvis snarl. She was shooting a pistol at the booted feet of my prefrontal cortex, making it dance, dance, dance to stay alive.


There were earplugs but I couldn’t stop talking, telling her all about the chickens we just brought home so that we can step in their mess and teach them to trust us. Next day, machine prattling on, she held a black and white photo of her husband’s grizzly-bearded confederate ancestor before me while I sat, immobile. He had a chicken on each shoulder of his finest jacket: one bird black, the other white, heads cut off by the frame of the shot. Vice and Virtue, chattering, fighting their timeless fight for influence. 


I felt the episode coming on like the storm tide, my toes skirting the foam surf before it went right on ahead and claimed me. It takes me up to the hips, historically, and this time quite a bit further than that. If only I had had no expectations, Heather. You know I know better. You’d think I know better. You’d hope by now I’d have given up on hoping. 


I quit that now, not knowing what’s next, but at this point, the chickens come to us for worms and crickets. When they approach, pecking from our hands, we trap them, hold them. Lifting’s just a hand softly cupping the breast, holding is only a hand beneath their feet. They do not fight us but spread out, flatten themselves. Sometimes they even shit themselves, waiting for release.  


Katherine Fallon’s poems have appeared in Meridian, Empty Mirror, Permafrost, Colorado Review, Foundry, and others. Her chapbook, The Toothmakers' Daughters, is available through Finishing Line Press, and her full-length collection, Gold Star, is forthcoming through Eyewear Publishing. She assists in editing Terrible Orange Review, teaches in the Department of Writing & Linguistics at Georgia Southern University, and shares domestic square footage with two cats and her favorite human, who helps her zip her dresses. Find her online or on Instagram.

"Pebbles" is a watercolor by Peter Welch. Peter has been a watercolor artist for nearly 20 years, and studied under Maine artist Wendy Turner. His work is eclectic and includes still life, human and animal portraits, nature scenes, and Maine imagery. He enjoys using dynamic and saturated colors, as well as unique perspectives, to capture his subject matter. He lives in Kittery Point, Maine. You can find more of his work online.

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