Leah Mueller

Prizefighter

1980,
lying in bed
staring at the ceiling

in the middle of a
Chicago February night,
I thought,

If I’m this depressed
when I’m
twenty-one,
what will I be
like at thirty?

I assumed
my despair
would multiply
like fungus,
devouring everything
in its path.

No one
could tell me
about giving birth,
or buying my
second house,

or the first time
I would see
my poetry
in a magazine.

No one
could divine
my trajectory
of fortune

from highest
to lowest,
and back again:

a loop repeated
over and over,
like a cartoon rerun.

Still, forty
years later,
I wonder what
I’ll be like at seventy,
and if I’ll be able to
withstand the pressure.

I can’t imagine
a worse ledge
than the one
I cling to now with
my perspiring hands,

but for some
goddamned reason,
I won’t let go
without another fight.

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