Laura Van Prooyen: A Year Like None Other

That year all elective surgeries were cancelled, and I
was the only patient. Once my appendix was gone,
my abdomen cleared of the spill, I was neither
sick nor well. Recovering, but alone.

Because we are all in danger
of what we cannot see:  no visitors. A nurse
to help me shower, to check bandages when I pressed
the button to be seen.

I can move these days without fear in the company of scars.

That year I lost an organ, a job, a month to my couch
and flannel quilt. I lost the day
my dad was in the hospital, and my mom was home alone.

I called her four times, and she forgot
each time I called.

That year the world slowed, returning me to boredom
and for the first time, I saw gliding across
my garden pathway, a baby snake.

I learned nothing matters. But then, it does
whatever it is—a maraschino cherry.
A wren nesting in a barrel of leaves. So, I sit in silence

with my eyes closed, open to stillness
that says we are alone
and there are many ways to die.  That year

I wore workout pants with pockets to hold my phone
to track steps, as if going somewhere.

That year I stood in a long quiet line
to vote for change
when two hungry dogs approached each person,

a dachshund with heavy, swaying teats,
missing patches of fur, a Chihuahua mix,
hobbling on three legs, its fourth tucked up, broken
unable to support weight. They left
as hungry as they came. What change.

That year, because of a new way of thinking
I popped popcorn nearly every day.

Best as I could
I stayed away from the people I love.
I kept my breath to myself.

I wished and did not wish to return to the life I had.


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