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I Eat Myself—A Meditation On Severe Secondary Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis

By Katrina E. Halfaker

The voices come like dry ice—there, and not there, these impressionistic figures with peppermint oil saying, "Undress yourself and we can escape..." standing at the doorway, loose protectors; is this the before or the after, I wonder, drifting away to the humming pulse of oxygen, staining my blood pressure cuff yellow as urine, blinking at the clipboards and vials; here, time is not and neither am I, and death comes godless with no reservation: hello, body, mother of scars, daughter of the great nothing, marred by the screech of a harpy with one wing broken—I am a bear—look at the fur on my lips, the dirt underneath my overgrown toenail ledges; shaved and sullen, skin sagging like a wet plastic bag—I am a tooth and talon, beauty macabre; a natural strawberry with the taste of tarnished pennies stuck to the roof of my mouth, waiting on this bridge that is collapsing against itself in wordless profundity: I consent.

Katrina E. Halfaker holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Rhetoric and Anthropology and is currently in the Master of Social Work program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; additionally, she is a survivor of severe secondary Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and is still in treatment—the case study on this, should it be desired, can be found in Blood Advances.

Art by Daniel Corkery Jr.


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