Kaitlyn VanWay

A Remedy for Panic Attacks

When my lips tingle and my fingers go numb,
I imagine myself in a cemetery,
where Earth is in charge
and those who’ve passed can comfort me
in ways only the dead know.

That soil stirs some universal unknown 
within, gasping for air air air to stretch 
my lungs, taking in only what I can handle,
getting permission to feel and smell 
and breathe, the sky green and bloated with rain.

It’s grounding, the smell my ancestors breathed
as they tilled their fields and built their homes,
buried their loves, giving and taking from Earth,
soothed by the same scent that blankets me
and makes me feel like I’ve found god. 


The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. —Kate Chopin, The Awakening 

My brow glistens with the tears of trapped women,
wives who spent their lives as mothers
to men who are remembered.

Sulfur air whips around me, pregnant with whispers
from the generations who came before,
firm, fearless, and feminine all at once.

The sun blisters my skin with the shame
inherited along maternal lines. But here,
Mother Earth is in charge.

I am not the first She has called 
to this sea of discarded wedding bands, 
sparking in the light, ready to ignite.

One day, my body will join these women, 
for it is woman from whom we are born
and woman to whom we return.

I go willingly and leave nothing behind.

About the Author: Kaitlyn VanWay (she/her) is a college student at Eastern Kentucky University, where she studies English and women and gender studies. She has previously had work published in Aurora: Literary and Arts Journal and EKU's Archives After Dark. An avid coffee drinker, art lover, and language enthusiast, Kaitlyn is currently based in the Cincinnati area.