How I Almost Died in Peru

The mounting list of things I needed but
could not get. I tried to put on a sweater

but I was too small. The ceiling was too big.
The water wouldn’t stay where I swallowed it.

I stepped into a bath that was hotter
than expected, which quickly became

colder than expected. I brought a cherry
to my lips, bitter as a piece of grass.

The air was so thin that after several steps
everything pixilated like a cartoon bomb.

Then I saw mother’s nails
drumming the countertop.

Then I saw her tightening the knot.

Copyright © 2016 by Patricia Colleen Murphy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.