**Content Warning:** This story contains depictions of and allusions to the abuse of vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities, LGBTQA+, and children of abusive parents, and may contain content that some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.
I didn’t want to pick out an appropriate picture for this poem. I picked out something calm that reminded me of the opposite of what this day felt like. Many of my poems are flashbulb memories or combinations of flashbulb memories. This poem is the worst day of work I have ever experienced. I don’t know if, in a literary sense, this poem is any good. There are quite a few poems like this I keep hidden: more personal in nature and harder to predict how a reader is going to react. Let me know what you think in the comments or like it. If you do like this poem, share it with your friends so I can get a decent survey of whether or not to post more like it.
I watch a woman melt today Skin sags off a decomposing body With a sputtering heart Interstitial fluid melts into The heated inflated bed Brain death at 4 o’clock in the afternoon Her children bicker in the hallway Her pacemaker trips Every few minutes
They sign away their rights to sue Hospital-Acquired Infection List Marathon As the ventilator sings positive pressure ”So she never woke up from the surgery?” ”No, ” the doctor lies Through his military smile
I am a phlebotomist and A disease controller: Biohazard level 4 room, Sir Check-in Check-out – a list procedure [Can’t talk back to the M.D. – Report her!]
I keep my mouth shut As they beg for hope Their mother’s dripping on the floor More Chux! More Chux! But their sister has to get there Before they allow us To turn off the machines.
Before you read this post, please take a moment to read my short story on Coffee House Writers here.
Read it? Alright then. Let me take a deep breath. It’s time for me to get vulnerable with you. These emotions are weird and difficult for me.
This piece is fiction, but there are pieces of this story that are true. I left out parts. I toned it down. I changed names, places, and made up new people and circumstances. Hannah is fictional. My partner is my best friend, he would never abandon me, and is one of the most understanding human beings on this planet – don’t you dare think that this story is in any way about him. Time to clarify some things just in case.
What is based on truth is the public transportation incident that the main character experienced as well as other aspects of trauma. I’m unusual. There was never a time in my memory before vitiligo and for that I am grateful. I never experienced loss, though it has grown. When my parents first took me outside as an infant and I started to tan it was there. Family members talked. They knew it affected me, but when I heard the words “deformed” and “disfigured” I internalized it. Growing up in very remote areas of the United States, even today there are people that believe it is a mark of demonic possession or worse. Luckily, I have a loving amazing family.
The public transportation incident in the story is based on when I lived in San Francisco. In 2016, an elderly woman beat me with her cane during evening rush hour while yelling, “Leper,” and, “Stop Touching Me!” I was not touching her. No one said anything or stopped her, but they sure stared at me. I got out early and walked the rest of the way home. Try and imagine the terror of being beaten in public by an old woman in front of a crowded light rail train car in rush hour while no one said a word. You there yet? Cool.
I didn’t include every example of vitiligo changing what someone saw or how they acted toward me in the story. I have been refused service at restaurants because they didn’t want a “leper” touching their plates or tables (this happened in Niagara Falls, ON). Questions like “when were you in a fire?” or later, after years of working in laboratories, “were you in an accident?” are always a fun time. These are the examples that come to mind.
We’re not looking for a perfect child. We will love a child with an addiction – even if it was a choice of coping mechanism in the moment or however it started. We already love people with addictions. They aren’t broken and they can be successful if given the support they need.
Want to help make change? Donate your time as a mentor or become a foster parent. Respite care can be for anything from a couple hours to a couple days and helps kids in foster care and families within your community that may need temporary childcare. Mentoring involves spending time with a kid to provide them with a role model and someone to spend time with. Multiple organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother Big Sister offer mentoring opportunities. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a great way to support children going through the legal system – a terrifying process for kids. Before donating money, look to your local community first.
Anyways – this story is dedicated to an incredible young person named Olivia. There’s my soapbox. I’ll get back to writing my short stories and book reviews. These emotion things are weird.