The Numb Machine

after Ada Limón

There’s that twilight sadness where I am on a beach of black sky and black sand and a star-shot blue ocean. There’s the sadness of lying next to a person and wanting to be alone. The sadness of being alone, and the empty. There’s public sadness when I hold myself together by the seams, and there’s private sadness when my doll insides spill out onto the bed and the floor, clothe and bloodless. There’s bed sadness, which is numb and quiet; there’s floor sadness, which is sob and pounding. Altar sadness where I am humbled and vibrator sadness which is the brief distraction of ecstasy when there is nowhere else to come or go. Also humbling. There is liminal sadness, when I split my chest as bread and offer it to both worlds, let the salt and calm float me, let the hours fold into themselves as bodies into a most gentle rapture. There is the sadness of having a body. There is the sadness of having a body that is touched by another body—sadness of a hand that touches & touches and does not disappear within. There is the sadness of having loved [you]. There is a balcony sadness, when the plant of my body blooms with the smoke & flush of its kin and I can smell like lightning the distant flashing scent of awe. Enough awe, and the machine might break.

Kai Rosenfield (they/them) is a queer, agender writer living in Massachusetts. In 2021, they were a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship Finalist and a Tin House Summer Workshop participant. This is their first publication.