How’s that for a Chamber of Secrets?

Stress is a snake moving inside my chest

Larger than the one you’re thinking of
Ugly and green, weighing my bones down, choking,
I can feel the scratch of its scales against my stomach,
The weight of it in my lungs
I can barely breathe without hacking out its shirts,
I move my hand to my mouth and feel them
One after the other, falling, falling,
The only way to make it stop is to cut
Parts of it off and swallow the rest,
Only to cough it up the next time.
Repeat ad infinitum.

Stress is a million bee stings in my palms
The moment when the pain has dulled
And the itching has yet to start in full
That tense, horrible moment when you can feel
How your body will turn against you,
When even the tiniest of touches is a danger
Your hands, minefields of sensation.
You want to reach out, but you can’t.
You want to pull yourself together, but you can’t.
You want to be angry but you can’t even turn your hands into fists
They lie there uselessly, palms spread out upwards,
Stress is depending on the charity of an uncharitable world.

Stress is the curling of toes, usually associated with pleasure,
And that’s why no one’s ever touched me.
Stress is the feeling of expectations too heavy,
That are never quite met.
Stress is curling toes, buzzing palms, a heavy foreign thing
moving inside you, your heart beating in the dark behind your eyes.
People keep calling it good but I have counted,
The days of my life that fell away, useless,
The things I haven’t managed to touch,
The steps I haven’t been able to take.
Before you tell me it’s supposed to be like this,
Consider the snake:
Do you really want it to have your face?

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