Poetry / December 2014 (Issue 26)


by Camille Rivera

When a child in the house was sick
my mother, the nurse, would take out
what looked like a small glass wand
with a silver tip. She would tuck it
into a hairless armpit. That night
I was burning, lying down on
a straw mat in the kitchen, rain-soaked
school uniform balled up in a hamper.
Already dressed for the hospital,
she took the thermometer
and inspected it under the bulb,
light settling a soft halo
around her head, silver liquid
shooting through the narrow tube.
Close to delirium, it seemed
the entire house and life as I knew it
was melting and shifting like mercury.
In a few months, my mother
would be on a plane for work
in a country I had never heard of.
It would take her many years
to come back, only to be greeted
by grown men and women
instead of children, a feeling akin
to a pill lodged in the throat.
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