She’s quit opening mail,
those rectangles

for the living;
quit picking up the phone

so concern cannot seep
through the holes

anymore. She’s sick of its dishwater taste,
her dutiful friends.

So sick of inquisitive doctors—
poking, prodding.

Once she was a painter

now she is this:

the bright stain
on her x-ray—

“Look, look!” an intern exclaimed
as if he’d seen a lighthouse.

She lies still, so still
can hear her heart working,

a clutch of pins through her veins.

Hands on abdomen,
eyes half shut

she processes the same details
again & again:

There, the nodding violets,
the blank chair,

the white mice racing in circles
in the lab

of widening pain: louder &

pushing her out.
She wants out.