Thanksgiving night I woke up choking,
acid reflux (that store-bought pie!)
down my windpipe, slamming it shut.
I leapt out of bed,
shocked awake in the dark,
my chest wrestling my throat,
Dry desperate heaves
like a sudden onset of the
acute asthma that has killed two of her friends,
I felt my gorge rise,
tried to spit it free.
Instead coughing up bile onto the floor, heedless,
invisible in the still-darkened room,
half bent over
grabbing my drawing table
scattering weeks-old piles of paper,
still fighting for air
I managed to cry out
in one of the tiny breathy gaps between gasps
before resuming my struggle against
the choppy spasms of my chest.
Later she told me
she didn't remember hearing me yell Help!
She just appeared.
Her hand, calm, pressed
soothing my seized-up back
Her other hand came to rest
gently on my chest.
Still I could not breathe
except in the shallowest of gulps, but
the force of my shudders lessened,
my heart stopped
The iron grip clutching my trapezius
My chest began to loosen its grip on my throat.
My breaths kept coming, slowly, a little
at first and then more easy,
She relaxed me.
I could breathe again.
I wasn't going to die tonight.
the crisis over.
I spat up there, I told her,
gesturing in the dark.
I rinsed my mouth in the bathroom
and try to figure out what had just happened
before going back to bed.