Thursday, May 31, 2007

Madame Curie and Terri Schiavo Meet Jack Kevorkian

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

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