A visit from The Healing Muse: 'Trauma' and 'Every Death'
Deirdre Neilen, PhD, shares a selection from Upstate‘s literary journal, “The Healing Muse,” every Sunday on “HealthLink on Air.” Neilen is the editor of the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing. Read The Healing Muse Cafe Blog.
Today‘s selections are "Trauma" by Leah Johnson and "Every Death" by Jacqueline Jules.
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Deirdre Neilen, PhD: Leah Johnson is the author of "Bindweed," published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2021. The poem she sent us is called "Trauma," and it captures the steady horror of living in pandemic times, when we cannot relax our vigilance.
A squatter in the landscape
of the body, this beast. This echo
from childhood. The well-loved child
unsafe at home, unsafe at play.
And the habit of vigilance learned
so early is exhausting. I drag
the days and nights of pandemic
and deaths and riots, politics
and murders and insurrection,
the noise of the news. The incessant
noise. We wonder why we feel dread
gnawing at the edges of our beings.
Wonder what is this bitter flavor?
And I remember. It's the scent
of the beast in our mouths.
Jacqueline Jules is the author of "Manna in the Morning," from Kelsay Books 2021. Her poem "Every Death" asks us to consider what part we all play when spreading misinformation and demonizing anyone who disagrees with us.
Should I be sad?
Watching a father of five, filming himself
from a hospital bed, pleading with others
not to make the same choice he did.
Does he deserve my grief
when he had the chance
to trust the truth as I see it?
My Facebook feed isn't filled
with posts tempting me to take
a drug meant for horses and cows.
But I'm guilty, too,
clicking on headlines
to confirm my opinions,
where my own thoughts
When chemo failed,
we tried everything
from onions to turmeric.
preventable or not, leaves
loved ones gasping for air.