we drop our holiday mood
like a heavy sweater in the heat
when that call sends us reeling
as leukemia sucks us
into its bell jar, rings
our ears, jangles
We can’t lower that volume
but distraction is at hand–
tickets to Porgy and Bess—
though I forget it begins
with a knife
After my husband’s ocular stroke,
we wondered about the risk of a “real one.”
said the busy physician.
“What can we do?”
“Take a baby aspirin–
and live life to the fullest.”
We took this prescription to the pharmacist,
who gave us the aspirin
but added, “You’re on your own for the rest.”
Meg Lindsay ~
After 10 days in a hospital
you regain the ability
to walk albeit with a cane so I put the commode
out in the hall as you are laughing a bit more,
the gleam back, but the chemo starts
and the next morning again pain
in your ribs and sternum
and now it burns
in your chest and again you
Francie Camper ~
City snow blankets my little mother in her hospital
bed in her bedroom, no wonder she is confused,
pointing to things in the air, on the ceiling that only
she can see. She might be hailing a cab. She raises
her head to tell me, Four members of the Isenberg
family came to visit and one was Mima Ettel,
who is already buried in
Jacqueline Dooley ~
I was unprepared
for the feel of your hair pulling free
with every brushstroke.
I wasn’t up to autumn
from the side of your hospital bed.
It seemed too much
for the universe to ask.
But, like you, I was choiceless
as I drove through November streets
the colors, drained and faded,
like your face when the chemo went
Ruth Bavetta ~
One and a half tubes of smörgåskaviar, most
of a jar of blueberry jam, a full jar of lingonberries.
Four sets of blue plaid pajamas–God forbid
I should have gotten him red. Six pairs
of reading glasses, going back
in five-year increments. Hearing-aid
batteries stashed by the lamp.
Three packages of adult diapers.
Our marriage certificate.
The rest of the
Erika Walker ~
“It’s as if you’re at the top of a hill,”
the doctor said. My father listened
from his hospital bed, a plastic tube
fed him breath he could no longer take
for himself. “Each time you get sick,”
the doctor said, “you roll a little farther
down the hill.” His young face shone
above his white coat. I remember rolling
Dianne Avey ~
So this is what it feels like
to be on the other side.
Hollowed out exhaustion,
rimmed with the chaotic clutter
of struggle and hope.
Like the beach after a tsunami,
all those once-important items,
now floating around uselessly.
I don’t know how to start this life
This morning, they came
and took the bed away.
I couldn’t erase their words,
catch the breath atoms, stuff
them between lips,
couldn’t raise survival rates,
lottery odds dependent on cells suctioned
at the precise moment.
Your chest thumping, frantic,
valves siphoning warmth, drawing
cold through vessels, to your feet
crisping leaves beneath us while
you spoke her life.
Replaying slowly, baby girl, toothless
smile, creative toddler scissoring
Barbie hair (and