WHEN THE NEEDLE ENTERS by Laura Lippman

the artery and the catheter threads

up to the heart.

words can't be started or staunched

until the drugs are cleared

days later.


The poem unfolds with the pain

ballooning inside me like my mother's

—old grief— radiating through my arms and neck.


On the screen nobs blow and sputter

marking time 'til the matter is settled—

nattering mobs simmer and flow.


No margin of myself to contain

I seep out of wards into words

until the wound is stitched and the

blood staunched.


I have no excuse to offer as rock

crumbles to soil unless fall bulbs

somehow presage spring tulips,

then dahlias of late summer.


I hope to outlive the earth's rebirth

and survive the rubble and strum

of whatever future unfolds this year


from the drang of our present clanging

to the dirge floating on the lift of the sea.