The past couple months, our family has been confronted with a lot of illness. Some big, some small. Even though this is a part of life we would much rather skip, it deserves its own place. That’s why I looked into poems about sickness. This one by American poet Tory Dent particularly moved me. I cannot relate to her condition (she had HIV), but I can see and feel the image she conjures up. I think a lot of us can.

in your arms

it was incredibly often

enough to be 

in your arms

careful as we had to be at times

about the I.V. catheter

in my hand,

or my wrist,

or my forearm

which we placed, consciously,

like a Gamboni vase,

the center of attention,

placed, frail identity

as if our someday-newborn

on your chest—

to be secluded, washed over

in your arms

often enough, it was

in that stillness, the only stillness

amidst the fears which wildly collided

and the complexities

of the illness, all the work

we had yet to do, had just done,

the hope, ridiculous amounts of it

we had to pump

from nothing, really,

short-lived consensus

possibility & experiment

to access

from our pinched and tiny minds

just the idea of hope

make it from scratch, air and water

like manufactured snow

a colossal fatigue

the severe concentration

of that, the repetition of that

lifted for a moment

just above your arms

inevitable, pressuring

it weighed down

but remained above

like a cathedral ceiling,

strangely sheltering

while I held tightly 

while there I could

in your arms

only there, the only stillness

remember the will,

allow the pull, tow against inevitable ebb—

you don’t need reasons to live

one reason, blinking in the fog,

organically sweet in muddy dark

incredibly often enough

it is, it was

in your arms

Tory Dent

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