Tag Archives: illness



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





At it again
the trees are greening
defiant of the chill wind
and dusting of snow

In their stripped state
brown and still
they can pass for dead
or dying

They bend under
weighted down
or pushed hard
by pitiless nature

I’ve seen her like that
so gray and wooden
I’m certain she’ll snap
and plummet irrevocably

I hold my breath
and my grief
remember the forest
and dream of one more spring


Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 12

Design Flaws



I wish I were different
a more gifted mother
who could crack the world wide
for my tremble fingered children
their hands not designed for a lifetime
of tumbling standard locks

Instead I am just this
remedial version mother
and tremble hearted
not optimally designed for a lifetime
that demands single-touch cures and water walking

July 2015
Julie Ayers

spring cleaning



under this perfect sky
with the cardinals nesting
in the forsythia as witness
I’ll load the fire pit
with medical paperwork
from the 1990s
turn to vapor
of unruly DNA and disease
mix all that heartache with the last
of the wood from our fallen oak
and let it drift
transform into a thing
too ethereal
to hang on to any longer


April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 16



Speed Of


She’s buried in the snow 

of a machine that floats

over her abdomen

revelation as frozen pictures

a Hubble Deep Field view

liver nebula

her native kidneys

a drift of distant stars long dead 

their light only now perceived

Was it better when we mistook

every bright spot in the black sky 

as a promise 

back before we understood

their glow most often signifies

softly whispered farewells

March 2015

Julie Ayers



we have our stories
written in indelible DNA
myelin sheath to lace
amino acid to crystal
bell curves on the bottom of tranquility
organs falling still, silent
cells that morph to blossom darkly

the other stories
we draw in soft pastels
only fix them by resolution
dangling by thin wire
in all their suspended coloration

the plastic hospital bassinet
sheltering wisp of white onsied baby girl
arms stretched upwards, reaching
our hands unequivocally catching

forceps liberating, cord cut,
blue eyes open, fingernails fine as rice paper
a boy all weary, bloodied
from the long struggle to here

heads that fit snug in collar-bones
hair smelling of baths of bubbles
Goodnight Moon and bunnies
and spoons of mush
sippy cups and squeak of swings

hospital hallways, sleep chairs, ERs,
ORs, intensive cares, incisions, syringes,
liquids, pills, capsules,
nights and nights and nights
full of tubing and machines
that pump and beep and drain
procedures that punish and save
and save
and save
and save

circus clowns spring-board launched
somersaulting over lines of bowed children
chemo-bald and nervously giggling
cotton candy in blistered mouths
that needed to relearn the shape of laughter

a call, a text, a visit, an email
a party invitation and picnic at the pool
a book, a glass, a poem, a concert
hats and sunscreen and trophies
and tribes

fires browning marshmallows
warming fronts and feelings
as backdrops for men thumbing guitars
vivid sparks of voices rising
into midnight blue

and saved
and saved
and saved
and saved


May 7, 2014
Julie Ayers

The Eighth Floor


Down the bright hallway, behind the double
doors, she hoped to find the large cart full
of clean linens. A top and bottom sheet,
pillow case, two blankets, likely stained.
Towels. Please, towels. Thin and far too
small to be practical, but please, towels.
It had become routine: Her daughter’s
admission to a room, then her determined forage
for linens to cover a sleep chair. Please,

a room with a sleep chair. A sleep chair, unbroken.
She’d wake at 5:30 before the doctors would round,
before the other parents usual woke, so she could
slip uncontested into the shared bathroom down the hall.
Standing in the shower’s anemic flow, quickly washing
her hair, scrubbing away the scent of latex and dejection,
she formulated her questions, restrained them to topics
with faultless answers — would her child need
another blood transfusion today, a dosage

increase, extubation? She knew better than
to utter, or ponder, the crucial questions –

When will we ever again feel
the sand against our soles?
How can we manage without light?

October 2013
Julie Ayers