Annalee Fairley

Static Rift


The neurologist sent us home again

a handful of seizures not a high enough currency

to purchase a hospital bed

                                                                                     in this poem you are not dying


and many patients are waitlisted

for a small place to die in

                 under blinding fluorescents

it is hard to see underneath

   all the groans

             we are rotting floorboards creaking from the load

Did you hear gods underneath the weight

                                                              I mean wait

I mean wait for me                  don’t leave

I want to say I’m sorry

I want to say I’m sorry

                                                     I could not

                                                                                                               lift gently

I want to say I’m sorry for spilling you

when I found you                   

           baby sister       your stiff brick body

     tore holes in my arms

when I found you

            your head        a puppy’s yelp against wood

How can a static skull still claim a life?

I witness the empty

picture in your pupils

it hurts only to see

myself in them

did you feel a god when your body began to move without consent

did his hands hurt

                                     did they incinerate

your chest                   your arm

                                                         your hand

                                     your head

moves away

                                    heaves against the hell behind your frontal lobe

                   absence     seizure

                                                                 the doctors keep saying           I believe in both

you are an absence

your body seizing like gold

daffodils under torrential spring showers

  two bluebird eyes      bulging portals      an ether I slip into


The absence of meaning creates a rift in time

which must be the meaning of this          split of earth we now breathe in.

tell me you are here in this                          rift with me

though your eyes                          play vacant

clear lakes leading to the dark




my little daffodil

lover of wild flowers

because you hate uniformity

I won’t tell you that your stem

is torn from a brain’s beating current

the rips   the blood    the bruise from being

stuck by this bee needle


ER nurses stick with multiple stings        do you feel them

your skin does

collects the needles’ bite

bluish plum sap soaking the skin

      a body turns on you

                                                                                                     not towards.

                                                                                        are you still

                                                                                                                       calling it yours

    I still hold it     stammer     stutter

                                     baby sister       utter       my friend

in this limbo       in this in between phase the brain mimics


friend       the postictal phase

the phase in between your frontal lobe’s misfiring

the phase after a seizure in which breath returns

the phase in which I see the ghost of normalcy

                                                            I hear her voice but it sounds like

a silhouette of my sister stuck in her bed

webs of screams stick to me

echoing stop stop stop in the night

I am there with her

beside her

not knowing if I should take her back to the hospital

not knowing if this is enough rest between seizures

not knowing if she could die from the electric jolts playing with infinity

not knowing if I should wait for her vitals to drop like the doctor said


because you are still not sick enough for that coveted hospital bed


For the first time in 10 years     I pray

but my words cling like moths to a temporary light

They die before the sun even rises

                                                             and I am afraid


                                                                  you are going to die because the pause is so brief


the relief in this brevity is like breathing in smoke

a poison I hop into and

          you look

at me unflinchingly with a prayer’s plea

                                                                                           for an end

                                                                                                                   even if it means…


I want to understand this

            I want to understand this

                         I want to make sense of this

                                                                                          how a body can turn on you

how I once saw your limp legs dance


how just last week I heard your vocals in perfect pitch sing House of the Rising Sun

how I no longer see the sun rising

after days of adrenaline

robbing sleep


I forget sunlight

I forget where it lives

I forget a weary face could still feel                                      



The days


                                                             seaming together

               an achingly perfected stitch of torment                           empty of answers


of a cause

of a definition

for my seizing sister wrenching


                                       we move onwards though

                                                                                           in an absent sense of days

living in the rift        of this


the earth calls out to me


                                                                 standing in         an in between

                        I let myself go there

the minutes mold only seizures

                                               then the postictal breath which I latch onto

                                                                                    sister       hold my eyes


                                                                                 if you stay here with me       I will take you

                                                                 back to the creek we splashed against scavenging

for gold but discovering only toads which were just as

                                                                  valuable to our dimpled grasp      we held them

like precious moments hoping to somehow keep a thing

that moves away from our fairy fingers

and I hope to keep you


though the days dwell in a stasis

and you move into the arms of status epilepticus



I cannot wake you this time even though your eyes are open

                                          looking into them I search for a creek babbling in all that


empty blue

you carry the weight of it without blinking


                                                                                       all I see are eyes filled with vacancies


the hospital bed now ready

to nest my sister my chest still grips

doctor now ready for the


                                                     seamless        moments in her estranged body


begging for an absence

                                                           to this boundless seize of time


Annalee Fairley is a poet currently based in Roanoke, VA. Over her writing career, her poetry has been published in Ink&Nebula, Apricity Magazine, and The Black Fork Review. She has been the recipient of the Betty Killebrew Literary Award and the Neill James Creative Writing Scholarship. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry on a Gager Fellowship at Hollins University.