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A visit from the healing muse: 'Calling on Lula Mae', and 'I Don't Know'

Deirdre Neilen, PhDDeirdre Neilen, PhD shares a selection from Upstate's literary journal, "The Healing Muse" every Sunday on HealthLink on Air. She edits the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing.

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Calling on Lula Mae, by Cynthia Carmichael

Lula Mae was a big woman
and fond of snuff.

The Maxwell House spittoon,
           an extension of her body,
accompanied her to the doctor.

Near the end, house calls were of necessity.
The doctor found it a challenge to locate her tiny abode
            at the edge of the Everglades,
where weeds and smelly skunk vine
swallow all in their domain.

Inside the walls seemed alive,
covered as they were
with funeral notices,

 those ancient photographs,
            those faces of the dead,
smiled out, carried on,
and kept Lula Mae in good company.

Those…and the cockroaches.
There must have been hundreds.

The doctor learned to perfect her technique—
three hard punches to the sofa
to send them scurrying
before sitting down to listen.


I Don‘t Know, by Cortney Davis

 When I drive home, will I walk through the door of joy
or into the raw edge of disappointment?

 I don‘t know.

 Will my daughter‘s bruises heal and her pain go away, burning off
like morning fog?

I don‘t know.

I don‘t know if I will keep my job or leave it;
I don‘t know if I have the courage to change my life.

Does anyone know, after the pit of night,
what tomorrow will bring?

How can I serve, when all I do
is scurry after the thing-ness, the supposed-to‘s
or the you-must‘s of my life?

I don‘t know.

For this day, my task is to give praise
for not knowing.

For this day,
my task is to give praise for not knowing.

6-9-13-MUSE.mp3 (2.77 MB) (Click to open in new window or Right-Click to save-as)