“All-Consuming” by Maggie Greene

Maggie Greene, RN


You don’t know what it’s like, bugs eating you
from the inside out. They devoured any food
I ate so I stopped eating anything.
I’m tired of this life. I told my husband,
“DNR me, I’m too old for any more of this.”

I said, “No more.” So why was there
a feeding tube stuck down through my nose?
I pulled the tube, they tied my hands.
They said, “It’s for your own good.” Ha!
They’re just afraid I’d pull my IV line out, too.
I would, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that I’m lying here, wanting desperately
to scratch but am unable, what with these restraints.
The pretty nurse rubbed special lotion on me, told me
it would make the itching stop. Yeah, when?
Could she not see the lotion smells like fruit?

Thanks to her, the bugs move faster now.
They migrate from my belly to my flesh,
boring through my veins like Christian soldiers
marching off to war. The pot is sweetened.
They’re moving with a mission now. Soon enough
I’ll die, I guess, because they know what she did not.
Thanks to Florence Nightingale, my skin tastes just like pears.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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