Meredith Maltby

Acupuncture Poem

With a practice rooted so deeply in the past,

I was warned the procedure could take the form

of wolves.

I immediately fell supine on the table

to activate change.

With watermelon incense and chimes

needling my consciousness, I was told

personalization was possible.

Despite being twenty,

I was given Hello Kitty needles, without comment.

The procedure began.

There was little pain, just dreams.

Two dreams marked physically by

a commercial cat, two dreams of the past

I was warned about.

I dreamed a grid:

Top-to-bottom highlighted map of

my own body, mid-procedure,

purplish knees, ice blue lips, nothing but

color cruelty. Heat map.

Except for the midsection—

My stomach, a picnic blanket. Red & white

patriotism, needles raised up

like birthday candles.

I was a flag on a table.

Everything was easier before I added fifty more stars

to my own national ideology.

Before I became too grand for my own good.

I dreamed a star:

One, and numerous already

in my rip-scratched night sweater.

There was little pain, just dreams.

I woke up on the table,

gasping like a fish for meanings,

for auras and dreams, for answers

behind the colors on the grid.

I was assured that anxiety was normal,

Pushed gently back to the table

like a lover.

There was no one moment of clarification.

I left the office with twenty-one bug bites,

twenty-one attempts to wake my body anew,

still so cold, still a purplish, ice blue grid.

Later I will learn to meditate,

Trusting only the needles of sleep

in my own hands.

I was open like a bear trap


I scratched underneath

my chin and felt



a whole bed

right underneath

the jaw

I pushed straight


with bee fingers,

Broke easily through


One glorious


stag beetle,

Ladybugs dropping

steadily, ants

on stray


Whole arm thrusting through



I am here

in the center,

I would like you

to go now

Let me probe

the self inside


the lions

in my ear-


Meredith Maltby is from Glen Ellyn, Illinois and studies at Tulane University. She is a relatively new student of meditation and wishes she could live permanently inside of a cumulus cloud. Meredith has previously published her work in OVS Magazine, Vending Machine Press, Pif Magazine, Prairie Margins, and was a featured reader at Design Cloud Chicago’s HERE / NOW event.