By Selene Hoffstetter
Art By Penny Stuart
Why is it, in my twenties,
the world starts to fall apart?
My body gains new medical terms
I can’t even pronounce — let alone explain
to others. I sit in front of a group
of doctors, fearing diagnoses I never
knew to fear until I reached my twenties.
I am one of those people, in their twenties,
who ignore my symptoms — a doctor’s nightmare
as I forget, I am no longer young
(not like I used to be)
when I laughed in the face of infections
and played with open wounds
in germ-thriving pools
and only visited the emergency room once —
after ignoring the unconscious closing
of my lungs
and ate random cookies without checking for nuts —
I had no fear of death.
Now, while in my twenties, I treat
my life more preciously.
With bandaids and bandages,
sports tape and alcohol wipes,
I try to eat more healthily — bad habits
have a way of thriving in weak minds
and mine was always a little too stubborn
when it came to myself.
So when a small lump on my neck
exists for two months
(and I mistake it for acne)
and the occasional meal doesn’t sit right
in my stomach
(and I blow it off as bad food)
and my right leg tingles more than the left
(a new occurrence from the last two days —
I blame on my deceptive mind)
I sit myself in front of the mirror
and self-diagnosis as healthy.
To the room full of doctors —
like the world, I am crumbling.
Selene is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon. She grew up in Hemet, California, and discovered her passion for writing during high school at Western Center Academy. She pursued her Associate’s in English at Mt. San Jacinto College and transferred to the University of California of Riverside as a junior in the Fall of 2022 as a Creative Writing major. At the moment, she is actively pursuing any opportunities to improve and expand her skills, knowledge, and influence as a flourishing poet.