Everywhere I See Plague Signs
An X drawn on a door,
men in carts carrying away the dead:
At a dinner party, a stranger announces the end
of her chemotherapy. I count those I know.
We are all survivors, some holding on
longer than others.
Would I want to be the last to let go?
There are no windows at the radiology center.
All the machines are below ground.
Incandescence gives way to dim lights,
the antiseptic realm of technologists.
I don’t breathe, as I am told.
I imagine darts penetrating my flesh.
The radiologist’s report informs:
There are no associated abnormalities.
Ultrasound fails to define.
No worrisome features,
Outside the doctor’s office
the sky is without clouds,
the sun vigorous for September.
Relief is as strong as breath.
Overwhelmed with health.
I tell friends everything is fine.
Then why am I frowning?
As if bad news is my mantle,
the coat I will not cast off?
Ronnie Hess is the author of three poetry chapbooks (Whole Cloth; Ribbon of Sand; A Woman in Vegetable) and two culinary travel guides (Eat Smart in France; Eat Smart in Portugal). She lives in Madison.