An Anthology of Poetry and Medicine


by Alyson Miller

It started with stomach flu, your body leached crackle-dry. A night and day of heaving, crouched before the porcelain neck of the toilet as acid burns your throat raw, bleaches the calcium from your teeth. The smell of rot and sweat perspire from hot skin during the horror of choking as stomach and mouth rush to empty, the contractions echoing a guttural lament down the hallway. In the hours before morning, pulse thrashing like trapped fish and convinced something alien is attempting birth from your chest, you ask me to Google symptoms of cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary failure and, to be sure, indigestion. In the ER, imaging reveals only a fissure, a rib-torn muscle that will soon knit bone-tight. On leaving, the streets vacant with that brief desolation of night and heavy with petrichor, we talk of magnetic fields and radio waves, the intimacy between gut and heart, and the impossible magnetics of hydrogen atoms.


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