Rave On

It is a bitter cold day in February and I foolishly leave the house without gloves. By the time I realize it, I have reached the corner where my friends are hanging out, and I have no desire to return home so I shove my hands in my pockets and forget about them.

purple clouds 
a groundhog slips
on the ice

The sky darkens and I notice the wind biting my hands every time I take them out of my pockets. Finally, I get tired of the endless talk of Buddy Holly’s plane crash and I go home.  Once inside the house, my hands begin to sting and burn.  I am surprised to see how white they are.  Stupidly, I run to the bathroom sink and plunge them into warm water.  I scream in pain and eventually my mother comes. 

double dare
her tongue sticks
to an icicle

My hands are red and swollen with blisters. The pain is excruciating and I can’t sleep. In the morning, a doctor is summoned to the house and he diagnoses chilblains. 

guitar riff fingering the pain scale over the top

Eventually, my hands heal but the memory of that searing pain returns whenever it is cold. I never again forget my gloves.  

A few years later, as a student nurse, I am assigned to the burn unit.  I don an isolation gown and take elaborate precautions to protect my patient from infection.  His chest, arms and hands are covered with burns.  

howling wind
a wounded deer 
crosses my path

Failed Haiku A Journal of English Senryu

November 2021

It’s 1952 Again

We’re transplants from the clotted streets of Brooklyn to a brand new tract home next to a Long Island farm. We spend the summer catching tadpoles in giant jars of stream water. We watch them turn into slippery and hard-to-grasp toads. This place is idyllic, perfect. But only for a minute.

Darkness sets in along with a tightness in my chest.  The muck on the bottom of the stream grows like something in a horror movie. My feet are stuck  but I break away, heart pounding. 

Looking back, my best friend Johnny is caught in the muck. He turns into an enormous tadpole and I watch him disappear into the murky water. I scream his name until my mother comes. The only word I hear her say is polio.

falling from a tree the blue of a robin’s egg

Grandmother’s Pearls : An Anthology of Dream Poems

ed. Alexis Rotella

Published 2021