Month: August 2010

Chirality

Stacy Nigliazzo

I see myself, always
through a stark looking glass

the fun house view of my own face 
reflected in the eyes of my patients–

tangled in the bleeding strands
that line the gray sclera of the meth addict

drowning in the pooling ink that splits
the swelling pupil of the hemorrhagic stroke

swimming in the antibiotic slather
that blurs the newborn’s first gaze–

my clouded countenance,
ever present–

slipping even through parched flesh
along the steely glide of the angiocath

glistening in the fluid bag
of intravenous medication

glaring back 
from the sliding metal siderail–

twelve hours streaming from my skin
like an open wound in the scrub sink

face to face
in the soap-splattered mirror–

only then, 
do I look away.

About the poet:

Stacy Nigliazzo is an ER nurse and a lifelong poet. Her work has been featured in Pulse–voices from the heart of medicineCreative NursingAmerican Journal of NursingBlood and Thunder and The International Journal of Healthcare & Humanities. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is a 2006 recipient of the Elsevier Award for Nursing Excellence.

About the word:

Chirality refers to the quality of some objects that cannot be superimposed …

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Dr. B Gets an F

Gregory Shumer

Flashback to a year ago: I’m a first-year medical student–a fledgling, a novice–trying to integrate countless facts into a coherent understanding of how the human body works. Professors slam me with two months’ worth of information inside of two weeks’ time. They tell us that this is a necessary process, one that all doctors must go through: we must first learn the science of medicine before we can master the art of healing.

My life revolves around tests, labs, deadlines, long hours in the library and very close relationships with the baristas at Starbucks.

In the midst of this chaos, I developed a crippling ankle condition that transformed me into a concerned patient for the first time in my life. The pain started as a dull ache that I experienced only during exercise. Then it gradually worsened, to the point where I could barely walk to school the day after I’d played a basketball game. A golf-ball-sized bulge stuck out from my right ankle, and my two months of medical education suggested no remedies.

It was at this point–worried, looking for answers and desperate to get back to normal–that I decided to see someone.

Dr. B, the orthopedist …

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Angels and Phantoms

Joanna Dognin

“Mama,” a little voice pipes from the back seat. “Why is that boy in a chair?”

The sun is beaming into the car as we sit at a stoplight, waiting to exit a store parking lot. My two-year-old daughter has spotted a young man, barely twenty, who smiles weakly as he rolls by in an electric wheelchair, collecting money for muscular dystrophy.

“He’s in a chair because he needs help moving around,” I say.

“Why?”

“Because his legs need help.”

“Why? Because they don’t work?”

“Well…”

“Why are they broken?” she asks. “Is he broken? Why is he here? Where is his mama? Mama, where is the boy’s mama?”

* * * * *

“Dr. Lobozzo, you got any kids?” Gabriel asked, calling me by my maiden name rather than the married name I’d only recently begun using.

“No,” he continued with a sly smile. “Don’t tell me. I already know. You have two sons.”

I was newly married (without children), living in one of New York City’s boroughs and working in the Manhattan HIV primary care center I’d joined after getting my psychology license. The center integrated mental health and social services into …

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Dissolution

Jocelyn Jiao

the articles went first.
then the pronouns, the verbs,
nouns. they melted away, leaving 
only memories of warmth
cradled by salivary glands.
adjectives flutter behind 
my front teeth, ready for flight.
only adverbs remain,
curled beneath my tongue–
yawning, drowsy:
the softest words of vocabulary.

the lilt of my voice has left too,
soapy Californian vowels
scrubbed clean. 
when i speak to my mother,
she complains of my consonants,
how they have begun 
to iron out cadences, climb 
over inflections, ride 
them into deep sand. she says
only my whisper remains whole.
but not for long;
already the throat whistles.

it all started at your
bedside, when your lips 
were parted, straining
to form one first, final word.
a sudden embrace of cold 
concrete made you into
some bright thing with eyes
translucent, gasping
for the comfort of
water, empty and clear–
when ebullience 
once spilled from your lips
as a sun warms an earth.

do you see? words are meant 
for creatures of air. i have no use for them;
even fish can sing.

gently, carefully, tenderly,
night arrives; it pivots and
provides no answer. i feel your name 
coil in my mouth, watch 
as it ebbs …

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