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Healing

When I thought I might die,
not eventually, but very
soon, I treated me more kindly,

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Continent

          Contact: from the Latin for touch.
          Isolate: from the Latin for island.

Because your breath had touched mine,
I was obliged to metamorphose
into a separate land mass,
to wear a collar of brine
like a heavy gurgling yoke

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Seated on My Hospital Bed

My seventh-floor window vibrates,
          the room throbs in crescendo
as a rescue helicopter stitches
          a curved seam across the sky
bound for Children’s Hospital.

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Migraine

It’s not the heart that gathers all the pain
of our life, it’s the head;
burning head, cremating all my movements
forcing me to fake that I exist:

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Gratitude

When was the last time I combed my hair?
Before the ambulance, even longer

when the plate shattered
and he cleaned it up without speaking.

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Womb in Waiting

              “Yes, death will make the poem end.” – Danielle Chapman

              i History

Fact: my mother had a hysterectomy at age 80.
Fact: she had birthed six children, miscarried one.
Fact: she told us she did not need those parts anymore.
Fact: she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 94.
Fact: her sister was diagnosed at 98.
Fact: my aunt chose a mastectomy, lived to 103.

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Bone Loss

Whisper me

into the chambers

of bone,

honeycomb of marrow,

talisman

bleached,

rib      of      grey      dove,

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Schrödinger’s Patient

In a box she waits,
Neither dead nor alive,
Until observed.
In three months,
The box opens.
Tested, probed, scanned,
She learns the cancer has recurred,
In which case she is dead.
Or it has not returned,
In which case she is–not alive.
Boxed in once more,
Neither dead nor alive,
She again awaits the allotted period
Until the box is opened,
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Faulty

Cathie Desjardins ~

Rusted nearly through at the base
of their pale green throat,
the amaryllis buds are trying to bloom,
like a person with a tracheotomy
trying to say a poem.

I snip off the buds, leaking dark red
from their diseased wound, trimming
them to clean pale stubs to put in water.

Day to day, the largest furled bud
is loosening into white

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The OR in Promise

Lydia Flores ~

a paper gown, an intravenous tube and silence greater than my symptoms
sterile sheets speak my fear & insecurity saying will you be there with me
come back after the anesthesia has broken up with me and hold me

could you love a cure that hasn’t found itself yet? will your grace go down
with me weeping and swinging because time is spilling its sand and I

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Notes From the Pain Committee Meeting


Pam Kress-Dunn ~

She was always my favorite nurse, her smile
genuine as I took my place at the table, my role
to supply the research and stats they might need
on the floor, or in preop. The chronic migraine
I brought along was my little secret, my inside joke
every time the talk turned to pain scales
and nerve blocks, the bright lights and overheads

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Phlebotomist

Dianne Silvestri ~

The corridors seethe with nocturnal predators,
their voices low.

My door latch coughs, a figure hisses,
I’ve come to draw blood,

wrenches my arm like a lamb shank,
rasps it with alcohol, plunges her spike,

pops one after another color-coded
rubber-stoppered vial into the sheath,

unplugs each loaded one to add
to the crimson log pile weighting my thigh,

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