The pain starts with pins and needles.
That sounds so harmless, cute even,
like what folks say about waiting for a surprise.
It is not. Not harmless. Not cute.
Pins and needles are distinctly different.
Needles are sharper and go in easier, deeper.
Pins take more force to puncture the skin,
and they are thick enough to feel while still embedded.
So the pin pains stay mostly stable, stationary–
while the needles jab more quickly,
there and gone in bursts,
stabbing deeply when least expected.
Flinching doesn’t help, but it is involuntary,
as are the small gasps of pain.
As the aching numbness spreads,
the widespread dull weight is surpassed
by sudden pangs, each sharper than the last.
It is almost a relief to have it localized,
to have a place to point to,
to say, “the pain is there”
hoping a location will lead to a cause,
and cause to a cure.
A cure before the small gasps become
a constant keening, off-key, sharp,
a wincing soundtrack to despair.
c. 10/5/2016 Betsy A. Riley