I wake up after noon and a stone falls out of my mouth.
Before I can stop myself, I wash it off in cold water
in the kitchen sink, put it in the freezer
for an hour or so and then swallow it again.
It hurts a little going down, but I’ve gotten used to it,
since this happens almost every day.
This is why I panic when you sleep over,
scared you’ll catch me absently scrubbing
the stone in the kitchen sink - afraid you’ll see
the space I make for it in the freezer
(so that when I swallow it again
it’s cold and hard in the pit of my stomach).
But what you don’t know can’t hurt you (can it?),
and how could I explain this plodding ritual?
I barely understand it myself.
I tell myself it’s better this way, better
that you don’t know - but I know,
as sure as water, that one night
I’ll spit out the stone when I’m sleeping,
make a puddle on the pillowcase,
(the stone’s slimy edge brushing your cheek)
and you’ll wake up horrified and disappear
like you were never there in the first place.