Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Waiting Area, Children’s Hospital, Boston

2 comments

Our bloodlines winding back, then lost.
We harbor bad genes from great-great-greats,
our son unlucky except he's doing well.
We listen to the quality of his cough.
The others with his disease: thin, jaundiced,
a forest after the fire, transplant candidates.
A host of disorders here: small kids
in aging bodies, kids whose bones won't mend,
whose DNA is rung after broken rung.
We're waiting for a lung x-ray,
a baseline should things go wrong.
Kids in full body casts, kids without hair,
or scraps of indeterminate color,
their faces in decline. IV poles, face masks.
Walker never asks if this is how he'll die.
He's bored and wants a different book.
I won't let him run here, though he wants to,
in front of all those eyes. For a moment,
I want him to look just a tiny bit sick, but brave
in the face of it. He takes bitter meds
in suspensions. Twice a day his entire life.
If I forget, he remembers.
How does it taste, I asked him once.
Sweet, he told me. It tastes sweet.


Karen Skolfield’s poems have most recently appeared online in The Adirondack Review, Apple Valley Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, Barnwood Poetry, Conte, and PANK. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two kids and teaches travel writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and she is a contributing editor at the literary magazine Bateau.


More from



Lovely poem. I especially enjoyed the end.
Lovely--thanks for the read.
Comments are now closed for this piece.