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Are You a Doctor?

Margaret Kim Peterson

“Are you a doctor?” 

I am sitting by my husband’s hospital bed in the surgical admission ward, where he is being prepped for surgery to close a severe pressure ulcer on his left ischium, the knob on the pelvis where your weight rests when you sit. 

Dwight was eighteen when an illness damaged his spinal cord,

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Giving Care

Ronna L. Edelstein

When I was six, my family and I spent a week in Atlantic City. I loved the Boardwalk with its saltwater-taffy aroma and colorful sights, but I feared the pier that jutted far out into the Atlantic. One moonless night, my big brother bet me a bag of taffy that I couldn’t walk to the pier’s end by myself. Never one to back down, I accepted his bet. But the farther out

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Listening

 Elizabeth Szewczyk

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 styling hers to match).
Then, like a runner, sprinting 
to that

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Tree Years

Addeane Caelleigh

We used to trade off, 
she said.

He hated trees dying in our living room. 
I always loved the blue spruces
decorated on my December birthday

But his father fell near theirs
dying in their living room
one childhood night. 

So we’d have a year with tangled lights, a crooked stand
he sometimes helped me put together
Then a year with presents stacked on the corner table,
with no dry needles to sweep.

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Ripped From the Headlights

Maureen Picard Robins

“Get a notebook,” he said. 

Dr. Altman and I stood face to face on the pediatric surgical floor of Columbia-Presbyterian Babies & Children’s Hospital. It was the first week in December. A metal crib–it seemed more like a cage or prison–separated us. In this center space lay my yellow heart: my eight-week-old daughter, wounded by surgery, dulled by morphine, our whispers flying over her.

It had been nearly twenty-four hours since Dr.

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In the Taxi to the MRI

Rachel Hadas

I try to concentrate on the weather. Everything
deliquesces into simile.
Sleet ticks onto the windshield like a clock.
Truth blinks on/off like a stuck traffic signal.
It is better to live in the light but the light is flickering.
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak-
Poetic paradox understood too late
or maybe just in time. What time is it?
A small white poodle in a quilted coat
lifts

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Echocardiography

Rachel Hadas

One: secretarial computer screen:
appointments, cancellations. Two: machine

we’re here for, registering your heart’s each pump
with grainy images that throb and jump

in sync with the obscure interior.
Three: anticlimactic VCR

screen, a tiny, garish old cartoon
squawking and jerking in the darkened room.

Past these respective renderings of vision
we move next door. Here the examination

is palpable, is stethoscope to chest:
breath in, out, raise your arms, stand, squat,

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Aunt Helen Sees a Ghost

Laurie Douglas

Five months ago my husband and I moved from Manhattan to Queens to take care of his 84-year-old aunt, who has Alzheimer’s. Although she can’t cook, shop, or manage her money anymore, Helen is remarkably functional in her own home. She’s lived here almost forty years, more than half of them alone, as a widow.

Nothing has changed–the furniture, the bric-a-brac, even the refrigerator magnets–since my husband was a child. Neither has Helen’s

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