Here-After

Poetry by Courtney LeBlanc
Issue 64 • June 2018 • Arlington

I had braces for 2.5 years, my bottom jaw inched
slowly forward, headgear for three months,
four teeth pulled, and then later, four wisdom teeth
cut from the soft pink of my mouth. My older siblings didn’t
get braces, my parents didn’t have the money
and their mouths weren’t as fucked up
as mine. My mother would argue my mouth
is still fucked up. She tells me now my father is sick
again, the rattle in his chest concerning. He can’t breathe
and all I can think is cancer, is drowning, is death,
his body once again attacking. It’s been nearly
fourteen years since he got a new kidney
and he says if it ever stops working he’s done,
he won’t hook himself to another dialysis machine, won’t
sit for eight hours while a box the size of a fridge filters
his blood. I want to fly to North Dakota to see him, walk
into his hospital room, my $3,000 smile plastered across
my face. I imagine myself on a tiny boat, floating
in the fluid gathering in his lungs, my brilliant
smile lighting up his insides like a nightlight
as he sails to the here-after.

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at wordperv.com and follow her on Twitter @wordperv.

Illustration of Paul Hostetler

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