United Hospital (Handout photo)

Of course I heard voices in the night,
saw visions,
felt the presence of dying,
that white, fringed place.
Shallow breath, narrow entrance—
the door to death opened.
Then came steroids
and their lack of inhibition.
There was terror. I admit it.

Just before I learned the news
I realized all you have meant to me
and I thought I had too much feeling
to continue to see and spend time with you.
Then they told me I had a brain tumor
and it had to come out. Damage had happened.
Seizure and aura, the grey dome of the growth
or a cathedral lit at the top where the cross is. Flora wrote
so much of life we find in the funniest places.

Boundaries. Love.
Bone, cutting, and stitches.
More blood than the surgeon had ever ordered.
I knew I needed your help
for the children, the family I might have to leave.

I am writing to say I can make the changes.
I am writing to say I have been opened and closed.
I am writing to say that today when the nurse came
to change my dressing,
she glanced up and said, “Oh, look, is that snow?”
We looked out the window and saw it together,
first flakes,
those white, fringed birds
the first snow of the new season.

Patricia Kirkpatrick lives in Saint Paul and teaches at Hamline University, where she edits poetry for Water-Stone Review. Her book of poetry is Century’s Road. Recent poems have appeared on Saint Paul sidewalks through the Everyday Poem Project and in the anthology The Poets’ Guide to Birds.

Posted in: Poetry
Tagged: 2010