It’s not the heart that gathers all the pain
of our life, it’s the head;
burning head, cremating all my movements
forcing me to fake that I exist:
eyes shut, no sound, no light, no thought
everything on hold but the pain
all days and all hours the same,
long, anonymous hours,
my wants and longings reduced to a “nay”
every cell of my identity decimated in the fire,
the mere fact of being me
no longer a possibility, replaced
with a timeless wait for the permission
to live again, at the end
of my walk through flames,
making everything anonymous, much like death
pain in the soft substance that knows I exist
pain eating up my time
this constant abolition of being is now my living
and nothing can be done
the worried faces of doctors come with pills
that make me sick, their voices too loud,
their coats too white for my pain,
they can’t get near me
and nothing can be done, the fire
exiles them all to a distant land,
where they can never learn the secret:
I live two lives. The one I dream of
in a good pain day, when I lie still
and watch the changing shape of clouds
on a dark sky, and the dull one,
where I return to able doings
in the shiny world of good work,
which is never good enough.

Alexandra Pârvan is a senior lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Pitesti, in Romania. Her research on the philosophy of medicine received a prize for excellence from the European Society for Person Centered Healthcare (London, 2018). She has published two volumes of poetry in her native tongue (Romanian) and has received several poetry awards. Her poetry in English has appeared in Neurology; Annals of Internal Medicine; Journal of Emergency Medicine; Families, Systems, & Health and on the websites of academic, museum and poetry projects.

About the Poem

“The poem speaks of the intense pain involved in living with chronic migraine and the multidimensional annihilation that it entails: The world, the others, one’s possibilities and one’s identity are violently, and repeatedly, eradicated. Exploring this experience, the voice in the poem seeks to find out whether something can still endure, whether some meaning can be recovered even through such drastic, forced destruction.”


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