Deirdre Neilen, PhD shares a selection from Upstate’s literary journal, ‘The Healing Muse‘ every Sunday on HealthLink on Air. She edits the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing.
Order copies of ‘The Healing Muse’ through the Center for Bioethics & Humanities.
Snow, by Katharyn Howd Machan
falls outside my safe brown home
and I am weeping, I am crying:
this house holds two black-striped cats
but God is a distant palace of whim
allowing my daughter to long for a drug
that turns her into thin gray smoke,
vague lips that lie for survival.
Crystals? They’re blowing now
swift and silver and silent as hope
only a mother can ask to find
when the body she’s birthed and loves
finds heroin is more important
than giving to the wider world
calling out her name. Snow
beautiful and bright and pure
pours down from a streetlit night
here where I dare write a poem
praying that the girl I bore
is able to look out through a window
and wonder at winter sky.
Things My Daughter Lost in Hospitals, by Toni L. Wilkes
One million twenty-seven strands of hair.
A smooth scalp. Several inches of frontal bone.
A Tiffany bracelet. Thirty-nine liters of urine.
The call button. Her patience. A pear-shaped
Gallbladder. Her husband’s patience. Eight pints
of blood. Numerous stainless steel staples.
Her job. One decaliter of cerebral spinal fluid.
Two blue and white hospital gowns. Her pink
sweater. The ability to have more children.
Twenty-two pieces of Big Red chewing gum.
Forty-one days of consciousness. Names
of night nurses. Names of day nurses. Six
Actiq lollypops. Seven neurosurgeons.
Two hundred eighteen sutures. Her daughter’s
sixth birthday. The desire for sex. Three yellow
bedpans. Her blood-brain barrier. Five years.