The List of Dangers
Mama knew by heart, a home health care nurse in the 80s, only one of three in our frightened town willing to keep doing the work she loved. I took an oath, she said, to care for the sick, don’t recall it making no exceptions. She loaded her nursing bag, boxes of supplies, into that battered old Chevy, setting and running as many as fifteen infusions a day, praying as she drove, not for them, the patients even our priest called sinners, but for herself. I pray for me, she said, that I can do what they need, make it easier somehow. They called her Miz Elizabeth, and thanked her for coming, again and again, despite all those who warned her against them. God made us all, she’d say, laughing and getting to work, and only at home did we see how much she loved, how she mourned them when they went, how they each took a part of her heart in their passings.
Mary Carroll-Hackett is the author of the collections The Night I Heard Everything (FutureCycle Press, 2015), Trailer Park Oracle (Kelsay Books, 2015), If We Could Know Our Bones (A-Minor Press, 2014), Animal Soul (Kattywompus Press, 2013), and The Real Politics of Lipstick (Slipstream, 2010). Her work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Superstition Review, Drunken Boat, Slipstream, and The Prose-Poem Project. Mary lives in Farmville, Virginia, where she teaches at Longwood University and with the low-residency MFA faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
This poem is not previously published.