Cover Photo: Tallulah Pomeroy
Tallulah Pomeroy

When a Mystery Illness Strikes

This is what I have learned from the past months of pain: We are made of equal parts death and life.

Do you have a black eye?

Should I buy a cane?If it helps

You need a brain biopsyAnd you need chemo meds.

He was doing something elseIt’s not what you say it iswetback whore cripple.

What is wrong with you? What is wrong with you? I know what you should do. What did you do to yourself? Maybe it’s allergies. Maybe it’s mental illness.

Have you talked to your psychiatrist about this?Are you stressed before this happens, or after? Is this because of stress? Tell me how this is not real, how you made it up in your sick mind.

Who do I remind you of?Thank youI know you want to help

You need to have a long talk with God

What do you wantWhat thing do you want?

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart
be acceptable to you,
Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer.

V’-heg-yon li-bi l’-fa-ne-cha A-do-nai, tzu-ri, A-do-nai Tzu-ri v’-go-a-li, v’-go-a-li

Take itTake more.

LESLIE CONTRERAS SCHWARTZ is a Mexican-American writer of Maya descent, and a third-generation Houstonian. Her first collection of poetry, Fuego, was published by St. Julian Press in March 2016. She writes poetry, essays, and fiction about the lives of women and girls, particularly as survivors of bodily and psychic trauma. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Te Collagist, Hermeneutic Chaos, Tinderbox Literary Journal, Houston Chronicle, and more.

She lives in Houston with her husband and three children.