by Hillery Stone
She lies on our bed whimpering
under a blanket she's kicked off ten times this morning-
how am I to know whether to warm
her or take away the warmth
as her fever rages, marches past the Tylenol we gave,
the chilled towels, the bag of frozen peas I pressed
and pressed to her swollen thigh in the night. Now
her ears burn red; her head under my cheek feels
hot as the thick mug of coffee I drink each
morning beside her, reminding her not to touch it,
which is to say, reminding myself not to let it touch
her. She is the crowned Delicate
of the house. Everything hot, noxious, possibly germ-
ridden is kept away; we float above and around her safely,
like a mobile. But what could remove
the pain of her soft limbs after all those shots, the heat
of her own skin inside which she is trapped?
Her tears are bitter and imploring-I am responsible
and yet without an army to send in. Her body
is beneath me, and separate now.
Anything that will save her she already contains.
originally published in Painted Bride Quarterly