POETRY June 5, 2020

The woman in the Tecfidera commercial finally loses it

because she has been
     backpacking through the TV-set woods,
          and diving into the fake blue pool,
               only to emerge dry and fully dressed
                    at an amusement park
for five fucking years—and she is sick of it.
Imagine what you could do with fewer relapses:
perhaps go on the same date countless times,
and pretend to be bad at the carnival games
so that a man with a neckbeard can win you a teddy bear.
But today the woman in the Tecfidera commercial
does not forfeit the hour to curl her hair into beachy waves
through the smog of a fatigue flare.
She does not maintain a low-salt diet so that the steroids
won’t make her face swell up.
She does not wear that sensible yellow blazer:
she emerges dry and fully dressed at the amusement park
and breaks into a scream just to see how many people look. 
She lets the cotton candy web over her teeth and leans in for a kiss.
She stands up on the Ferris wheel, grabs the metal bar,
and starts rocking the gondola back and forth,
and when her date doesn’t say, We should do this again sometime,
she texts the woman in the Lunesta commercial, u up?
the prednisone has been keeping me awake all night lately
and of course the woman in the Lunesta commercial
is awake—that’s her thing. Actually, in this moment
she is considering doing a line of Xanax off her nightstand,
and offers to cut a second one
when the woman in the Tecfidera commercial gets there,
and they skip all the pretense.
Yes—the woman in the Lunesta commercial
grabs the sides of her swollen face and says, you’re beautiful.
She runs her hands over the dimples all the injections left,
and they are fucking before their clothes are even off,
before the TV censors can cut to static,
and the woman in the Playtex commercial,
who lives on the floor below,
is banging a broomstick handle on her ceiling—
she has a very important track meet tomorrow.
They are about to break the seal on a mezcal bottle
when the censors finally notice and have to pull
them from the airwaves forever,
and they cheer to the fact that they are finally done
giggling noiselessly over the side effects list.

Casey Smith is a writer with multiple sclerosis who aims to subvert harmful narratives about chronic illness through her poetry. She will be an MFA candidate at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the fall. Her poetry can be found in Passages North and SICK Magazine.