Madame Curie and Terri Schiavo Meet Jack Kevorkian
In my dream of Terri Schiavo, a redneck
walks through her room with a rifle and hunting dogs.
A small brown bird flutters in the grass. Its heart
falls out in my hand. But no, it's the telephone,
spewing words. Brain tumor. The bird lifts
from the grass—brain tumor—and flying low, disappears
into an ocean of grass. One little brown bird.
The hunter shoots anything that moves, but Terri Schiavo
doesn't move. The grass doesn't move
around her. I search the swamp and hemlocks for a stump
or log, a place to sit.
Once, Dante called to read me a poem.
In my dream of Terri Schiavo, the sun hangs orange
in the cage of her ribs and sings like Maya Angelou.
I was on my way out the door. Are you sitting down?
Dante asked. I sat. I sat for seven hours, his words echoing
in my head. I am Beatrice he said. I am Narcissus and you my pool,
my mirror. I am Dante, he said, and you
are the seven layers of hell. Before that,
he asked if I was sitting down.
No one asked me if I was sitting
when they said, brain tumor.
A woodpecker hammers a tree, drums
and drums. They let me stand, staring,
while they said, brain tumor.
Small, they said, and not malignant. Like my mother’s,
the same tumor
that took her memory, maybe her life.
In my dream of Terri Schiavo, bees have made
honey in her skull. Loud in the swamp around me,
peepers sing. A woodpecker hammers. Her brain is honeycomb,
honey seeps onto her tongue. In all that darkness
something sweet. The memory
of something sweet. Hazy in the hemlocks, the sun sinks.
The memory of flight. I think about morphine,
about making a will. About surgery and radiation.
Around me, the woods darken. Geese fly over. Or the memory
of nothing at all. No memory. In my dream of Terri Schiavo, her eyes
flicker and open. In those blank pools, she sees the sun
sizzling into the ocean. A geyser of steam erupts
in the newborn darkness. Around me, trees are dreaming
themselves a forest. There's a hole in their dream where I sit.
Mary Stebbins Taitt
070530b, 060401a, 060330a; sent to Turtle Ink Press 5/30/2007