the ears lie but claim
the eyes lie or perhaps the body
either way the world is a ship
I call it “vestibular unease”
as I glance smartly over my glasses
motionsick in my stationary body
the fancy word just means
I live on a yellow submarine
not quite as glamorous as it sounds

you should be able to sink
your heels pleasurably into the floor
enjoy the solidity of the world
reality is not supposed to have give
like an overripe plum
I prefer wooden floors to marble
but even plastic laminate is okay
it keeps you upright and springy
I refuse to live on a ship/plum
I have no navigatory skills
and I don’t want to be the stone
inside gooey fruitflesh
straight horizons should be
mandated by law
don’t make the world turn wrinkly
like my fingers after bathing
I crave stability but
refuse to be the stone


Copyright © 2023 by Maija Haavisto. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 17, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“When you’re severely, chronically ill, illness plays a hand in every second of your existence. Mostly it’s okay; it’s unstable but in a stable, familiar, cozy way. Then, when a new symptom or ailment hits, the house of cards begins to wobble. In this case, it was wobbling quite literally, as I had developed BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which is a common and pretty harmless malady, but very unpleasant. As a poet, writing is my way of finding meaning and asserting control, the tiny sliver of illusory control you can claim when living with a chronic illness.”
—Maija Haavisto