© 2021 Pulse - Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved.
Neither dead nor alive,
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,
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
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
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
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,
Laurice Gilbert ~
4th January 1986 / opened the journal and wrote the first entry:
swapped completely from mercury to digital thermometer
basal body temperature: a colorful set of graphs that each invests
3 months with footnotes, asterisks and inexplicable numbers
Reading: Birth Without Violence / The Paper Midwife
A Guide to Responsible Home Birth
21st January / passed my Distance Learning exam in Horticulture
Human Biology next
I used to talk of fun and games
Now I talk of aches and pains.
I used to paint the town bright red
Now at nine I am in bed.
I used to dream of lovers bold.
Now if truth be told
The only men who interest me
Are those with a medical degree.
“Why,” you ask, “have they such clout?”
Well–we have so much to talk