06 March 2009

Amy Gerstler

[from Amy Gerstler's Medicine, Penguin, 2000]

To a Young Woman in a Coma

You haven’t gulped down your allotted portion
of joy yet, so you must wake up. Recover,
and live to bear children — a girl and a boy —
twins who kiss in the womb and fox trot
on your bladder shortly before they’re born.
Find your way back to us. Landmarks include
the lines on your mother’s pierced earlobes,
jagged crags of your boyfriend’s chipped tooth.
Come up from the basement. Climb those damp
plank stairs and reenter the squinty glare
of consciousness. Grip the rickety handrail.
Go slowly, past jars streaked with mushroom
dust and enriched mud from the house’s bowels.
Let your name be written in orange marmalade
across the breakfast table. Reel in your soul.
Tell it to float back, through the portals
of mouth and nose, into its flesh envelope,
so you may enjoy the privileges of being
flooded with pain, inhaling rank hospital
food fumes and seeing your family’s patient,
inescapable faces, too beautiful for words.
Surface, even if it feels like you’re crashing
through a plate glass window. There’s too much
left undone. We can still smell the out-of-doors
all over you: daffodil bulbs, rye bread
and cider. So wiggle your toes. Groan.
Open those gunky eyes. You need to grow older,
have those babies, try to describe what
the other side was like, go ice skating.

Medicine (Poets, Penguin)

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