There she sat beside me in class
Twitching. The professor spoke
But all I could hear was the sound of her
Twitching. A moment of stillness
and then the motion of her
Twitch. A sudden movement
Interrupted by calmness,
Immobility. I began to count
the seconds between each
Twitch. One. Two. Three. Four.
Twitch. Others in the class wanted to scream
And tell her to stop. “For fuck’s sake can you sit
Still,” they wanted to yell.
I, for one, did not mind the broken rhythm of her
Twitching. I wanted to know the why
Behind the movement that wouldn’t stop.
Sometimes seven seconds would pass,
And I’d worry that it had stopped. Does the predictable
Tick now cease to exist in her
Soul or has some powerful source come and fixed
Her; is she now healed from the rhythmic
Twitch that somehow made her her, and is it even fair
To speak as if she were defined by the ostracizing
Twitch that held her body hostage?
I don’t know the answers. All I know is this:
I wanted to take her by the hand, pull her
Close to me, and let her take refuge
In my bosom. I wanted to hold
Her to me as a mother would her
Premature baby whose existence in the world is but fleeting.
I wanted to hold her to my heart— the one that doctors
Said beat irregularly. I wanted to let her
Hear mine and listen to hers because I wondered.
I wondered. I wondered: does her heart
But instead I kept quiet and sat still
But alert. Hyper-aware of her
Twitch, hyper-aware of our classmates’ cruelty
In their unresponsiveness, unaware of the professor’s
Words written on the white board,
And counting down the seconds
Until her next Twitch.