There is a niggling feeling I can no longer ignore. The pain in my neck threatens to paralyze me; I can feel distinctly the thread that connects from it to my mother to my grandfather to his mother. We are connected by a red thread tied around cervical vertebrae: atlas, supporting the circumference of the world, and axis, forming a pivot point to allow for wider perception.
If I am careful, I can keep homeostasis. But always, unexpectedly, it comes. It is a quiet pop and it happens when I am already overwhelmed, grasping at sand to keep on shore. My mother has the condition. My grandfather died after a spinal cord injury.
Lately when I get the pain, absurdly, I see chickens. They are not mine – they belong to my great grandmother – but they peck at my feet and shit in my yard. They are nothing but hostile, and I feel a mix of gratitude and hatred for them on her behalf. I rub my neck, the way she would and I stop, taking deep breaths, the way she wouldn’t.