THE RED DEVIL
the nurses on the cancer ward call it
because, like acid, if it spills
from the needle onto skin, the patient
has to have a skin graft. Red devil
for how it singes the inside of
the veins, causes the hair to fall
out and the nails of the hands and feet
to lift from their beds, to shrivel
or bunch like defective armor.
Now the test reveals the heart
pumps 13% less efficiently.
Never mind. Your heart
was a superheart anyway.
Now it's normal. Join
the club. Get tired. Learn to nap.
Watch the joggers loping unhill
as if they were under water, as if
they had something to teach you
about the past, how sweet
and useless it was, taking the stairs
two at a time. They still
call you hummingbird.
Sooner or later you'll be flying
on your back to prove
you've got at least
one trick left.
- Tess Gallagher