Happiness is a sick old thing—
not the chemical response of the body,
but the way I hunger for it, lost
in my own madness like a dog
chasing its tail, like a galaxy wound
around its dark center, like the snake
eating itself. Even birth is not safe
from hunger: a friend still grieves
having consumed a twin in the womb.
Everywhere I see blood, I am fighting
to keep my hands clean of it.
I wash them daily. I haven’t eaten an animal
in seven years. I purify myself
in ceremony, bathe in refracted
quartz light, build a fortress of houseplants.
Birth may be the ultimate form
of consumption—yet who among us
hasn’t wished for more? And then wished it
all away? There are many things
my mouth has touched and longs to touch:
hot sand and the humid night air
dense against the ice-cold glass in summer.
Lately, I want to touch time, pack it on my bones
like muscle or fat. I could wait here, I swear,
and watch the whole universe eat itself sick.

Robert Julius