Lithium and the Absence of Desire


Virginia Chase Sutton


It is not advertised on the pill bottle, merely mentioned
in the product description from the drug store.

You have no idea what you are giving away.
Winter’s amnesia is coming. At first it seems impossible

because you live so fully in mossy, rainy lakes. You
have watched pelicans sail over a mirrored surface

just above and just below the water. It is so easy
to shudder beneath a sun as it burns rock to fire over

the island’s bumpy landscape. So you drift all the way in,
dozing in light and soaked color. Here you have lived

more than thirty years, as alive as yesterday’s romantic boil
of rain and hot skies, the fever popping all along your prickling skin.

You are perfectly at ease in this watery hive. Under the surface
you blur as kisses trail between your open legs.

You are not prepared for the gray clouds stealing close,
shriveling the shoreline to a smudge, sucking at the waves.

Still, you take the medication as prescribed. At first
you imagine your body may adjust or the pills

will come to understand you. It is no use.
Desire falters after the first mouthful, a little

swallow. How you will miss it, the tug and pull
at the body’s sweet dampness. You think of escape,

sit in a small boat not far from shore where you eat
pale apricots faded like old wallpaper’s delicate skin.

Strain all you will but you have given desire away.
No choice since you must take the pills. The land

contracts and flips over. The medication’s flash
freezes you to winter. After time passes, will you remember

the fizz of greenery spilling down embankments,
how you once drank from the lake’s clear aluminum?

Back then it was easy to drown in a cup of water,
but this is an unexpected kind of going under.

How you will shiver, forced to settle for icy
ruin, numb winters of regret.