In which we meet a constant companion
Anxiety was small and wrinkly when he nestled into my chest cavity.
Two giant eyes goggled outward at the world beyond my body, decided it wasn’t for him, and he settled back inside.
Now full-grown with a handsome sheen, Anxiety makes himself felt.
He doesn’t like breathing into armpits on trains, or overhearing people who roll anger around their mouths. He doesn’t like navigating new places, or new people.
Sometimes he doesn’t like leaving the flat.
Two unsteady feet hold my stomach in a death grip, with a squeeze-claw-squeeze when he shifts.
He flutters gusty wings in agitation, fluffing against lung and making it harder to draw breath.
And then there’s the head bobbing. An endless tapping that fills my gullet and knocks again and again on my chest wall.
He’ll calm when he’s talked to, sung to, or breathed at.
And he’s as greedy as his out-of-body brethren, deflating when fed.
I can’t evict him, so I paste on a smile,
And wish I had a pigeon named ‘Poise’ instead.