A serpent lies dormant in my chest
It wraps itself around my ribs, sleeping.
When I think of all my failings
It slips down, landing heavily on my gut
Squashing my diaphragm
Redirecting the blood away from my head.
Its tail flickers dangerously up my throat
The death rattle by my tonsils
I am afraid it will escape from my mouth.
I blink then stare upwards, feeling the cold air hit my eyeballs.
Ragged shallow breaths.
In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In…
Swallowing it down.
The lump returns uneasily to my chest.
Blink. Breathe. Blink. Breathe.
Until those movements become automatic again.