A Body That Is Shared by Jen Gayda Gupta

A Body That Is Shared

It is not my body, ketamine and acid infused,
mushroom bathed, dopamine depleted. I am on
the other side of the country, laying in bed while
my sister sobs into the light, watches the cacti bleed
by her car window as a man who refuses to love her
all the way drives them to a home I have never seen.

The phone chimes black and white shapes that mean
I’m okay but I am already there, each bump under
their tire vibrates through my skull. She is crying
one thousand seven hundred miles away and her tears
sweat out of my palms. After she brushes her teeth,
she blows her nose and a sneeze wakes me.

In the morning we are drained, our chests house
depleted balloons. She puts on a pair of scrubs, packs
her things and lifts a mask to her face while I raise
my computer screen. Our hands reach our coffee mugs
and her cuticles bleed, my finger wrapped
for a moment in her silver ivy ring.

Yesterday, I had a good day until she didn’t,
migraine blooming long before she called.
This never being alone is nice until it’s sad and then
it’s just sad for two. We feel like breaking a table,
like opening the earth, like chewing our own skin.

I tell her she should lay off the drugs,
that they don’t help, but I leave out the way they depress
me. It’s annoying to tell someone what to do
with their body even if it’s a body that is shared.

The moment my sister was born, my throat opened
like I finally figured out how to breathe. Today we wait
for the stomachs to settle, the invincible hum to pass.
I lay my head on a pillow and feel the curves of her lap.


Jen Gayda Gupta is currently on the run from responsibility, living nowhere at all with her husband and their dog. She enjoys big mountains and tiny spoons. Her work has been published in Dodging the Rain, Jellyfish Review, Sky Island Journal, The Shore, Wrongdoing and others. You can find her @jengaydagupta and jengaydagupta.com.