Tag Archives: health

The Mistress of Cursed Canines


Pit bulls are her preference, but it’s really
all about ridiculously cute and funny faces.
She scrolls the web for them, sussing
them out with the intense devotion
of a serial killer stalking a victim.

She’s had mutts, a blood hound
and Pits, as well as a few pet rats.
Her love for her animals is only equaled
by their remarkable reveals post-placement
of obscure and bizarre health conditions.

She built a special high chair to prop one pup
upright to eat every tiny, hand-fed meal,
after spending months doling out kibble
as she held her up on her shoulder
like a baby. Some rare digestive disorder
necessitating the small, frequent, vertical
feeds or the dog would have perished.

Her newest adorable addition,
who never managed to master
a leap from floor to furniture
in his first year, now needing hip
replacement surgery.

Countless trips to the vet for this or that
Illness or injury are the norm for the
kind-hearted Mistress of Cursed Canines.
I watch her drive by, my old dog at my feet
who gets his annual inoculations,
eats, voids, plays and otherwise
goes about his hapless business,
delighted and relieved by his sweet
but unremarkable visage.

Day 13


Just LIke You


I was not born with preternatural patience, or designed
with a temperament well suited to long stays in hospitals,
or a back better tailored for the rigors of countless nights
spent in bedside sleep chairs. I didn’t have an aptitude
for biological or psychological sciences and, in fact, actively spent
my younger years recoiling from any unpleasant bodily fluids
produced by others — like stomach bile and blood, feces
and vomit. I couldn’t even manage to stare down my own
stitched up wounds after surgeries or wash away the dried blood
from healing incisions. I had no special affinity for the medical
fields and disliked chemistry class. I was the wanderer

in the woods. The girl writing poetry in the lilac hedge. I dreamed
of being a reporter and novelist, raising two children, named
Casey and Zenobia, and taking them backpacking in Central
America. They would be precocious free-thinkers, tiny
social activists who lived their convictions. They would challenge
me intellectually, morally, and emotionally. I would watch
them storm with confidence into their wide-open world.

But I don’t get to craft the storyline of my actual life.
This is no tidy fiction or poem to be worked out neatly. Swirls
of genes and forces of nature and economy hold sway. I get
what I am given when it comes to DNA and health. My choice
is how to lift and carry every interesting abundance offered.
Other than being gifted the privilege of parenting children
with special needs, there is nothing special about me.
My children are not my children because I was well suited
to meet their needs. I have learned on the job, like every parent,
how best to help my children be their best. Or at least to aim
for that mark. Time on task has taught me how to keep
my medically fragile child alive, how to function on regular,
daily doses of restricted sleep, how to hold down a job
outside of my home while being a full-time medical manager
for my high needs honeys, how to bake cakes and change g-tubes.

I am just like you.

Every day, I choose.

Day 10



Swing through the chaos that goes cellular
overturned chairs and broken
and medal-ridden jackets paraded
in pieces
and hospitals
and central lines
vomit and pills and tears and shouting

But it is history
gift or curse
full or empty
it depends on the moon
or zodiac
or if it Thursday
or maybe Sunday
or it rained
but mostly if only one call was made
to make a thing happen
….any thing

People have died
and others have not
some walk away
and some dig in
fortify foxholes

Every closet
a rainbow
of unified colors
dishes aligned
and broken
and aligned again

Battles may be routinely lost
but skirmishes
with countertops and dark loads
can be won

There is no lasting peace
no peace
unless you’re savoring

Eyed Up


Standing at the edge of the soccer field
She swung her rope
Jumped again
Varying her speed to vary her heart rate
Intense bursts followed by leisurely hops
She kept her eyes on her son’s practice
His perspiring brow mirroring her own
As he sprinted towards the goal

Other eyes were on her
Some of the moms
Some of the dads
Some dads’ eyes lingering
Assuming she performed for them
Versus her health
Her form fitting yoga pants and sports shirt
Selected by her for comfort
And to insure her clothing didn’t obstruct her workout
Kept her safe and cool
Moved well with her
And made her feel confident
Must really have been slipped into
They believed
To entice men to stop and stare
Excite a biological imperative to ogle each curve
And assess her attractiveness
Her motives
Her worth

How shameful for a busy mom
To multitask on a beautiful day
Attend her son’s practice
And still fit in some exercise
Before stopping at the store
To pick up her family’s own groceries
As well as those of her elderly mother
Swing by her mom’s place to drop off the bags
Carry them all in and unload them
And encourage her sweaty, antsy son to sit by his grandma
And swap stories about their day
As she threw out the expired yogurt and milk in the fridge
Print so small her mom could never spot the spoil
Change her sheets
Fill her mom’s pill box for the week
And make sure she had everything she needs

Finally, setting out her trash cans on the curb
Before climbing back in her car
To rush home in time to prepare dinner
For her two hungry boys and hungrier husband
Put her own groceries away
Then run her other son to swim practice
And remain poolside to praise his progress
Before heading back home and throwing in two loads of laundry
Paying the bills
While helping both boys with their homework
Fill out permissions slips for upcoming field trips
Clean up after the dog in the yard before the sun set
And throw a ball for their ancient spaniel to chase
Scratch her belly and giving her a treat
Pack everyone’s lunches for the next day
Fold the now clean laundry and set it atop appropriate dressers
Load the dishwasher
Wipe off the counters
Ask her husband about his day
And talk about his frustration with his boss
And the state of the country
And their shared distaste over the unfathomable resurgence of high-waisted jeans
Finalize the schedule for the upcoming weekend
To determine which parent is taking which child to which game
As they perfectly conflict on Saturday
Before she set out her clothes for the next day
So when she gets up before the sun rises
She won’t need to turn on the light
And disturb her husband as she gets ready for work
Sets out the cereal boxes and bowls for the family
Rinses blueberries and places them in the center of the table
Along with a note, “Love you all. Boys, please turn in the signed permissions slips that I put in your folders in your backpacks or you won’t be able to go on the trip to Philly. Have a wonderful day!”
And heads out the door in the still dark
To go make money
To help pay for the team fees and the groceries and the gas
And veterinarian bills

Let us judge this mom
Let’s put pictures of her jumping rope on social media
Let’s assume she chose to stand where she stood so everyone could best see her
Instead of where she had room to jump and still see the field
And let’s talk to all of our friends about her disparagingly
Criticize her for her ostentatious show
Of fitness and a concern for her own health and wellbeing
As she carries the weight of her family
On her capable, well defined shoulders every day
With enthusiasm and love



Life will do what it does
lull us
then toss us airborne
to plunge untethered

Her blond head on the hospital pillow
as she wanders out of our reach
her mother, bedside
calling her home

Another’s cells gone rogue
…the sort through treatment options
decisions to make that alter
marking what now becomes
a time before
a time after

The one keeping to quiet corners
having walked another
beloved to the final
beat of his limitless heart

I’m surrounded by heroes
in the grocery store
who have suffered greatly
but still buy strawberry jam
and avocados
bake pies and grill corn

They have shown grace
and disintegrated in fear and grief
bedpans have been thrown
fingers laced gently
regrettable words spilled
mopped up later
or later still
or never

We stand firm
lay prone in puddles
get back up

This is the only way
Dark and beautiful

July 2017



100 Years


She watched them on the treadmills
and stairmasters
jaws set and eyes fixed ahead
moving rapidly nowhere
hoisting weights and snapping ropes
rowing in place on the cement floor
muscles grateful for the challenge
and reprieve from ergonomically designed chairs and desks
protein shakes clutched in hand as they exited
carefully temperature controlled buildings
and navigated the short walk
to their cars

Life lived in comfortable box after box
everything easily accessible

She sometimes wondered
if we are happier and healthier now
then when we woke and hunted
breakfast by climbing the hill
in search of berries or rabbit
watched the sunrise from
the banks of rivers
as we collected water
diving in and swimming when warm

Vaccinated to safety
we view our world through windows
we run in place
breathe the purified air
eyes fixed for 100 years
to the screen ahead

NaPoWriMo Day 29

Make It Count


Every miserable day
and good one
near the water
or in a hospital
I try
I try
I try
My manta of gratitude
for functioning legs and serotonin uptake
quiet moments
and every last hug
for a soundtrack
and friendship
and good enough health
for those I love to make it to sunset
then sunrise
Chaos and uncertainty
are too tight socks
pinching circulation
and leaving deep ruts
but limbs intact
if a tad blue
When I manage to roll them off
a more seamless state slowly returns
The heart relentless
doing its work

NaPoWriMo Day 27