The name sounds hopelessly Victorian—
I’d heard the term and thought of dressing gowns,
ruffled and prim, or suitors waving salts
around a lady on a fainting couch,
not this theater, with its cold table,
its pulleys and knives, not this race to sew
me shut before I spill. Not me. Not then.
But in my present tense, invalid, unstable,
incompetent, I catalog my faults
and hopes. I’m but a flimsy, bulging pouch.
Where is the I I was a day ago?
Behind the drape, the surgeon tugs and frowns
until I’m corseted. Knotted and braced,
I’m to be sent home to bed, chastened and chaste.
Chelsea Rathburn’s third poetry collection, Still Life with Mother and Knife, is forthcoming from LSU Press in early 2019. A native of Miami, Fla., she now lives in the mountains of North Georgia, where she directs the creative writing program at Young Harris College.
Also by Chelsea Rathburn (see all)
- Chemistry Lessons - March 4, 2018
- Incompetent Cervix - March 4, 2018
- Lay Figures - March 4, 2018