she slurs her words


painting: “Farewell”   Christian Schloe


Here is a heartbreaking poem by Susan Aizenberg:


The Nonself: Some Things She Said to Me


This is Hell, J. says from her hospital bed, and I
don’t mean Hell, I mean Hell. Like a comic
lush, she slurs her words, Atavan and morphine
swelling her tongue. Pupils shrunk to motes.

Bald now beneath her cotton turban, sparrow
thin, her body’s soft tissues devoured by cancer,
she seems some third sex, the nonself the doctors
speak of. Outside, the leaves burn rust and gold,

brighten as they fall against an indifferent sky.
She crooks a finger I can almost see
through, hisses: She wants to kill me. She’s crazy,
that nurse. You think I’m crazy, but she’s

the one. I want to go home. I want to walk
again. Why won’t you take me home? You don’t know
what it’s like. You don’t know what this pain is like.
You’re putting this in your next book, aren’t you—



painting “Melody of Rain”  Christian Schloe


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