top of page

Hit A Nerve – *TW for allusions to eating disorders, medical trauma, suicide attempt

                       [Emily Perkovich]



It’s the moment before the needle slides into my left wrist that I become aware of the
difference between a threat and an attempt

/how did I miss this/what did it stain/did I reach it in time/

19 is a disaster
19 is swollen
19 is body stretched
19 is my fingers down my throat as I pray to remove the post-baby weight
19 is a miscalculation of the proper dose while the bathtub drives me to dizzy spells
19 is my legs splayed for blackmail
19 is sleep in unexpected places 
19 is newborn tears
19 is three more months alone before I tell Iraq to keep him
19 is the social worker telling me I have to press charges to pursue a divorce
19 is the hospital

Would there still be stomach in the wood grain
Would there still be a ring in the drawer

I become aware of the difference between a threat and an attempt

Would I have stopped the threat
Would I have thwarted the attempt

I become aware of fruition

when they say, “it’s the little things”


on the counter is the mug with the chipped handle and a ring from the cup of ice water that I
poured in the orchids, there is really only one orchid, but it felt better than saying that I split it
with the monstera, that night I will not sleep, the bedroom door is painted in three parts Bit O
Sugar and one part Lamb’s Skin with two packets of glitter to remind myself that I love the
sunlight, the idea will clog up behind my eyelids, twinkle against the worry that I might forget
these thoughts by morning, and both will coalesce with the sound of the fan and the sound of
the wind, and I will bolt up from almost sleep and remember that there is a light I forgot in the
violet room, it will be bouncing off the mirror, I will pretend to sleep, and the black sheets will
pretend to be satin, there is still packing to do for the weekend, the floors are not swept, this is
most likely not a poem, but you’re reading it, and I wait for my coffee with a headache

but the moth sheds the caterpillar’s fangs


And at once I remember why I sharpen teeth to points

I run the blade against the porcelain and forget the idea of wrapping myself in chrysalis rebirth
as the spider spins excuses for why they should remain the same

silk /silk/ n.) a fine, strong, soft, lustrous fibre produced by silkworms in making cocoons and
collected to make thread and fabric, also spun by some insect larvae and by most spiders

see also - soft /sôft/ adj.) having a pleasing quality involving a subtle effect or contrast rather
than sharp definition

see also the way the delicate takes on the work, the way the soft, the way the silk is left with
the effort

I sharpen teeth to points
I lose them post-cocoon

I promise there’s a good reason why I refused for so long to release silk-soft wings

why i’ll always be haunted – *TW for allusions to sexual & domestic violence, medical trauma



too many hands, touching all the wrong spots. too much pressure, in places that never asked to
be stained with dirty fingerprints and filthy mouths.


nights i woke up blindfolded. nights i woke up deaf. nights i woke up screaming. nights i woke
up dead. nights i never slept.


the way the refrigerator felt pressed up against my back. anorexic-spine refusing to bend and
break. chin up, tears checked. the way that the solid object gave false confidence. the way my
bones still cracked.


the wedding ring in the grass.


tubes & wires

small lungs failing. because babies don’t belong here this early. but trauma has a way of
bringing out the best of us.


tubes & wires

“you can’t hold him.”
“please give me back my baby?”
“you have nerve damage.”
“give me my baby back!”
“someone put her back to sleep.”


distance and space and sirens and screams. and how all of those words just feel like the word
abandoned. and how everyone always leaves.


all these fucking metaphors.


my wrists tied to his knuckles. and how he hangs around my neck. and how he hangs around
my thoughts. and how he gets hung up in my throat. and how my eyes feel hung out to dry.


the way the mirror explodes when it sees my face. how two of my fingers fit so perfectly at the
back of my mouth. how i reach for the devil and up comes the ache.

Emily Perkovich is from the Chicago-land area. She is the Editor in Chief of Querencia Press, an art evaluator with Persephone’s Daughter, and on the Women in Leadership Advisory Board with Valparaiso University. Her work strives to erase the stigma surrounding trauma victims and their responses. Her piece This is Performance-Art was a finalist for the 50th New Millennium Writings Award and she is a 2021 Best of the Net nominee. She is previously published with Harness Magazine, Coffin Bell Journal, and Awakened Voices among others. She is the author of the poetry collection Godshots Wanted: Apply Within and the novella Swallow. Her chapbook The Number 12 Looks Just Like You is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. You can find more of her work on IG @undermeyou

bottom of page