Pain demands that you make eye contact with it and then sit utterly still.
– Sonya Huber
I am looking at pain,
my world turning brittle-edged and bright,
my body becoming a meditation on shards—
thoughts, incandescent and ecstatic.
In this too-bright world,
it’s your hands that turn off the light.
Your hands in the dark,
reminding me of what is still soft in this world:
your skin, this blanket, this space tucked under your chin.
Your hands on my head,
closing my eyes,
your fingers in my hair,
gently tugging the ache from its place.
We float in the night,
voices rising and falling
as the pain ebbs and flows through me,
until finally, it looks away.
I open my eyes, and your eyes meet mine.
Courtney Bates-Hardy is the author of House of Mystery, and a chapbook, Sea Foam (JackPine Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in PRISM International, Room, CAROUSEL, This Magazine, and The Best Canadian Poetry 2021, among others. She is queer and disabled, and one-third of the writing group called The Pain Poets. She is currently working on her second manuscript of poetry, tentatively titled Anatomical Venus.