“To Bitterness” by Gretchen Hodgin

Gretchen Hodgin


They are eating each other.
They are overfed.
—Anne Sexton

The doctor coolly asked me why
I wasn’t getting any rest.
He threw a light behind each eye,

a cone in both my ears, then pressed
his spider fingers on my throat.
I flinched. “I need to hear your chest,”

he said. “Could you take off your coat?”
It slipped right off of me like silk
and then my heart, that weird, remote

farmland was heard by mortal ilk,
preserving time methodically.
I shifted on the curdled milk.

He scribbled down some pills for me
and said, “Get better soon.” That lame
inherent need to be—to be

a human being with a name,
impervious to stone and soap,
a face in someone’s picture frame,

was why my body, shocked by hope,
allowed that foreign hand to prove
my heart beyond a stethoscope.

from Rattle #39, Spring 2013
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