Every week we’re publishing the winning poems from April’s medical poetry contest. This week’s poem was a runner-up in Category III: Grab the (Black) Bag: Miscellaneous Medical Moments.
By Callie Bateman
For my cousin Lindsey, a cancer survivor
She was seven and didn’t really understand, so she tuned out the anxious buzzing of their voices and counted the number of times the fluorescent lights flickered at the front of the room, sending tiny balls of blue bouncing off the colorless walls. They loomed over her with frowns and furrowed eyebrows, while foreign words drizzled out of their mouths and dripped like beads of burgundy onto the bleached floor. Her father leaned down and stroked her forehead, tried to remember the first time he cradled her head to his chest, when tiny ringlets of hair dusted her skin in golden patches. His fingers trailed the path of violet stains across her shoulders, and he began to shake with heavy sobs, while she still gazed up at the flickering lights and wondered how long they’d been broken.