Lifestyle Disorder

Preeti Vangani

Examining my hips with a reflex
hammer, the rheumatologist wants
to know, again, my age. On the smiley
face scale, I understate my pain. Barthes’
Mourning Diary in the chair next to me.
And why must every clinic have two chairs
on the patient side? Five years left to birth
my body into a regular mother. Maybe six.
He checks my wrists, clockwise then
anticlockwise. Like the body wasn’t enough;
movement too is a form of time. The hand
therapist trains me to hold grocery
bags like a baby. Maybe is not an option
under wants children on this dating app. I re-
adjust my pictures to crop my deformed fingers.
Plan quick, the doctor says. Last night,
I dreamt I was a face on a spring. What I
cannot uncork, I bite open. A lover says
that’s too much teeth. Is there a joint inside
me I can press and hold for a factory reset?
Dear gods of disease modifying drugs, take me
back to citrus afternoons when family was a game
with tiny teacups, little girls relishing sips
of air, and that was enough. What can you do
with your eggs in the meanwhile?
I don’t know doc, even the Craigslist ads
need you to be an Ivy League grad to qualify
for donation. The word arthritis sounds like
a rickety chair. A creak when I’m on my knees.
A creak when I say to him, you can do what you like
with me. He marries my namesake. One way
to manage discomfort is to fix a strip of foam
around what slips your grip. A pen, a cup ear,
a knife. Another is to sniff the dupatta mum used
to tie around my aching Iodex-ed elbow. Remember
its tightening knot. The lines its untying
wrote on my skin. You will relapse
post-pregnancy, the doctor warns. I tuck
the prescription on the page I am. Want to tell him
nobody is coming. Not mother. Not motherhood.
Not going to ever get through this book.

Preeti Vangani headshots

Preeti Vangani is an Indian poet & personal essayist. Born and raised in Mumbai, she is the author of Mother Tongue Apologize (RLFPA Editions), her first book of poems (selected as the winner of RL India Poetry Prize.) Her work has been published in BOAAT, Gulf Coast, Threepenny Review, Buzzfeed India among other places. She is the Asst. Poetry Editor for Glass Journal, a Poet Mentor at Youth Speaks and holds an MFA (Writing) from University of San Francisco.