From WTP Vol. VII #3
By Rebecca Olander
In a tenth-floor hospital room, my father survives surgery
with scars, the tang of residual fear, and green Jell-O.
The besieged brain chugs along, the scalp peeled open,
shunt placed, cancer given marching orders to the abdomen.
His wife leans in, and he thinks she is propositioning for sex,
he with half a head of hair, glued together like Mary Shelley’s
creature, his three children present in the room.
Uncertain acrobats, we tightrope between existing and
living, the patient with a new cane and an incomplete grasp
of gravity, the rest of us sinking under too much of it,
jealous of his morphine, of the wishful thinking he floats in.
At the bedside, my brother reads aloud how some jellyfish
are immortal, the medusa transforming, first the deterioration
of the bell, then the tentacles, cells transdifferentiating,
bypassing death. But who would want to suffer constant
regeneration? The wounded head, the dark internal drip
of cells. When should be the end of such continuing?
Read more of Olander’s poetry in WTP Vol. VII #3.
Rebecca Olander’s poetry has appeared recently in Ilanot Review, Mom Egg Review, Plath Poetry Project, Radar Poetry, SWWIM Every Day, Virga Magazine, and Yemassee Journal, among others. Collaborative work with Elizabeth Paul appears in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press) and online at Duende and petrichor. She was the 2013 winner of the Women’s National Book Association poetry contest, and her first chapbook is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press this fall. She lives in Western Massachusetts, where she teaches writing at Westfield State University and is the editor/director of Perugia Press.