La Malade Imaginaire

everyday i ask myself if i know what a fever feels like
and pull my lower lip over the tip of my nose
looking for
the heat within
35 years living with this body! and still i don’t know
the difference between a chill and a draft
i read that chills occur when the brain feels overheated
stranded and steaming
chills speak in hallucinatory demands
given no choice
skin responds with sudden prickles
shocked only briefly into cooling stiffness
the same electricity sparked by splendour fear or disgust
a test in reading signals new lover moods
shuddering reminders that we inhabit temporary forms
a long-distance ride : a nameless driver
i still marvel that my mother knew when we were feverish
just by holding the back of her hand to our foreheads
(could she tell i’d prepared for her arrival by
hovering my forehead in front of a night light for a full minute?)
i temporarily blinded myself in the process
a day in ginger ale
face pressed against the windowpane the street below
Alone at last
i drew happy faces on glass in cheek print grease
the outside world in suspended peach fuzz patterns
interfaces exist between skin and the world
meeting systems
slept with in bed, now
warmed and lit from within as
evidence of impermeability hastily wiped away
only as transparent as the day it’s cleanedeveryday thereafter
documentation in evaporation
non-porous and adherent
progressive opacity
a material reminder of
transferenceof living
production in migration
traced with the emotional coolness of impermeabilityThe refusal to absorb
separates us from being & self-image
body and the love of another
holds every smudged attempt at reunion
renders boundaries in clear flatness
in covert production.There’s a certain quiet pleasure in cheating yourself
a calm
in possibility made manifest
by intention
i learned to reap
magical thinking
with brow sweat
to conjure
an image into (invalid) physicality
it was on those days,
i learned that i existed in a body
rolling curves
over squeaks



La Malade Imaginaire was originally written to be read in four ways. It was published as follows:


  • Published on the occasion of Perhaps, A Window, at Stadium (Berlin), July 2020
  • Copyright © 2020 Bitsy Knox, all rights reserved.

Bitsy Knox · La Maladie Imaginaire (2020)