Back to Issue Eighteen.

in the emergency room



The belief that we may finally encounter glory. A child screaming our only language for pain. The talk turns to heaven: two of them waiting for news, another trying to breathe & the wait

long. The lit tunnel of my eyes like lightning bugs low in a summer field, so the sounds amplify: the heaven they discuss, throbbing my ears, underwater heartbeat. A painting Tanguy named

The Lovers, whose salt bones, mineral deposits, curve-lined wishbones like so many parabolas on a piece of ocean-colored graph paper nearly puzzling together but not quite. Like anchors

above the lovers, smaller pieces of bone floating in chaos, unconnected to any larger bodies. One perched like a woman’s torso, another the head & horns of a white-skulled horse, & then

one dancer’s lithe arabesque, or grand finale. If heaven were a curtain, it’d be rising.





For months the phone’s been ringing for Jeffrey. There’s no Jeffrey here, I say. No diabetic either. When they call again searching for his sugar-levels I worry he’s not getting his insulin

shots. I once knew a boy named Jeffrey. He became a lackluster car thief or an ultimate fighting underdog. He rode me on the back of his motorcycle, the wind making red vines of my hair,

colorful sugar granules of fearful laughter. You know how sometimes you’ve been lost or broken down on the side of a road you didn’t know existed until the phone rings for someone

you’ve never met. I’m unstable for you, Jeffrey. I mean I love you, and your diabetes. Even as I suspect you must not exert yourself without your diabetic socks, your compact glucose

monitor. I don’t tell them this when they call. I don’t say Give Jeffrey my love and a slice of sugar-free cake when you finally reach him, if it’s not too late. If he exists outside this strange

coma I’ve made for us, Jeffrey, amputated from reality.

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of Landscape with Headless Mama (recipient of the 2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize, and out from Pleiades Press) and Protection Spell (forthcoming from University of Arkansas Press’ Miller Williams Series). Her honors include an NEA Fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The 2015 Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, The Pinch Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared in Best of the Net 2015, Best New Poets 2013AGNICrazyhorse, Blackbird, and The Kenyon Review. She is Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and teaches at The Poetry Barn.

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