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Two Poems by Martina Gallegos

Are You Lost?
If the eerie sensation of walking along a narrow hallway
and feeling like I’m about to disconnect my feet from my body
were not enough, people asking me if I’m lost almost makes me
lose my mind, but I hold my breath and say, “I’m fine.”
Walking around above any first floor is even worse because
that’s when I feel I’m about to lose ground and quickly move
to hold on to any wall or object nearby.
I don’t even try to use escalators yet because when I did try,
I felt I’d pass out or start bawling out on the spot.
At first, even using an elevator was terrifying, and I felt more
claustrophobic than anything, and forget about looking out
to the building next door, or looking down from any upper
floor. I’d rather die right on the spot.
People look at me and grudgingly say, “I’d never would’ve known
you had a stroke.” Others say, “I never would’ve thought you had
a stroke. You’re doing/look great.” But what I really want to tell
them is: You have no idea the hell I’ve been through, or how
hard I’ve had to work every single day since.
I may not be lost in the physical sense, but I’m lost in
every other way, and only I know what that is like; how hard it is;
and how I feel about still being around when I almost wasn’t.
Some people almost attack me because I survived while
some loved one was bedridden for eight years and blah, blah,
but I know for sure that could’ve been me as well, but I made
a promise to do everything in my power to get back on my feet
no matter the pain.

Walking on Clouds
There are times when I feel like my former self, normal, I guess,
but that is rarely the case anymore.
When I get out of bed, I have to move slowly and gently and not
really move away from my bed till everything around me
is completely still.
At least now I’m ok walking around in the mornings but cannot
do so once dusk shows up because I feel completely
unbalanced, dizzy. Forget about trying to do any walking
at night, at least not by myself.
I recall when I couldn’t walk if I saw water on the sidewalks,
or if the sidewalks had any metals. My brain totally resisted.
I felt like I was glued to the ground.
I once went to the beach and climbed over one hundred stairs
each way, and on the way up, I even carried a bunch of shells.
On the beach, I was rock skipping and did just fine, and I was
surprised, but not really. A couple or few times I thought I’d
had it, but I kept looking for the next and biggest shell.
It’s still difficult to get out of the house and walk because
even familiar people look like strangers to me, and I feel my
feet getting weak for no reason, and I must be careful not to
make any sudden moves or turns, or I’ll be crawling around
all over town.
Sometimes I think my world is upside down, and I’m walking
on clouds and not on the ground.
Martina Gallegos

Martina was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States at 14. She received a Master’s degree from Grand Canyon University after a near fatal hemorrhagic stroke. Her works have appeared in the Altadena Anthology: Poetry Review 2015, 2017, 2018, Hometown Pasadena, Spirit Fire Review, Poetry Super Highway, Vocal media, Silver Birch Press, Central Coast Poetry Shows, Basta! and more recently, in the award-winning anthology, When the Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America, published by Golden Foothills Press, editor, Thelma T. Reyna.

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