Julie R. Enszer
Do you remember hospital visits?
Medicine too toxic to be touched
by human hands and dispensed
throughout the day? Do you remember
digital watches with multiple alarms?
One friend wore two on each wrist,
all of different colors. They beeped
asynchronously; this one for pills
with milk; this for pills on an empty
stomach; these two with meals.
We marveled at the small
slender chips precisely tracking
time. We raged at the disease,
at the way treatment was worse
than the ailment and offered no cure,
at how no one cared about the burden
of so many time pieces shackling
one’s wrist. In the end, wasting,
the watches drooped to his palms.
We poked more holes
into their plastic bands.
We believed in the magic of time,
in the possibility of small pills.
Keep on the regimen, we whispered,
New drugs in the pipeline.
We crooned reassurances,
crossed our fingers and toes
when he sat on the toilet.
On good days, the door open
for a stream of new magazines
and hushed conversation;
on bad days, closed. Nothing
but silence. In the end,
it didn’t matter—digital alarms,
the precise measurement of time.
His ran out.
Julie R. Enszer, PhD, is a scholar and a poet. Her book manuscript, A Fine Bind, is a history of lesbian-feminist presses from 1969 until 2009. She is the author of Sisterhood (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013) and Handmade Love (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2010). She is editor of Milk & Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2011). Milk & Honey was a finalist for the 2012 Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry. She holds MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Maryland. She is the editor of Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal, and a regular book reviewer for the Lambda Book Report and Calyx. You can read more of her work at www.JulieREnszer.com.
This poem appears in Sisterhood and is posted with kind permission of Sibling Rivalry Press.