The nurse comes by to
touch up the electrodes on my head.
Add glue.
Add chemicals. She says
You clench your teeth pretty often.
Did you know that?
It’s ok. I clench my teeth, too.

My entire body is tense all the time
& I can’t explain why. I’ve been a
cluster of anxiety since the day I was born.
My mom likes to say there was a storm in town,
a tornado, maybe,
while she was in labor with me.
The doctor made her sit in the
hospital hallway where it was safer.

It’s nice to imagine
howling winds helped usher me in –
that I was enveloped in noise from my beginning.
That my world has always been loud.

I don’t mean to clench my teeth I tell the nurse.
It’s just that I don’t know how to relax. Never learned.
I got sick before I learned much of anything.



Rachel Tanner is an Alabamian writer whose work has recently appeared in Moonchild Magazine, Barren Magazine, Peach Mag, and elsewhere. She tweets @rickit.