Poem by Christina Manubag


First you saw them on her skin

A two-week old with tubes jammed into
veins of thumb-sized hands and feet,
eight months and twenty pounds on your thighs,
seeping out of still blind eye sockets,

The little green maggots
clung to her hot cheeks and wrinkled fists,
locked onto the respirator, to her lungs,
but even young she knew to cling to permanence.

After that you ordered your first dishwasher,
antibacterial soap and disposable towels.
At church you gave peace and Purelled your hands
while the maggots bit into the baby carriage on the pew.

Seven years later they had laid claim to all of it:
her hair, your wedding dress, the master bedroom,
gnawing at the walls you could not defend yourself
so you packed your sterile suitcase and fled.

Every time you returned, they became a bit more bearable, 
though by now they encased her body like a moss shroud,
her voice coming through faint and muffled and foreign.

Now fourteen years after that, you return to the hospital, 
her arms wrapped, tan but cold,
all the green hacked off with a thumb-sized razor,

rejecting permanence,

sick and small with a face like yours.


More from Christina Manubag here.

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