Reader Submissions

Well-Known Corners of the People


Valencia Long

Let us not mistake the hospital for a home 

Outside, the alarms go off, an emptied pump, a disconnected plug 

Be careful, head sister says - these doors are heavy

perhaps four times your weight, for you were 

the gush of wind, a kind of flippancy 

before four hundred pounds of metal preserves yet again negative pressured air 

You laugh, rearrange your iPad, a stuffed monkey

You put them away because I have come as an intruder, uninvited; 

I flush your PICC - it is the third time 

The music box bleats a well-wound tune 

I ask if you are alright; you joked that the next time I should bring tea 

We watch a video on your iPad, but I really only have four minutes to spare.


Days later, I come to draw your cultures 

You smile, blood trickling down your nose- the air is heavier these days, you say 

your stuffed monkey sits quietly

you tell me to find a good vein, for by now:

I have memorised them like the back of my hand 

I leave the room- wind in my chest


When you left, you left like a gush of wind 

Flippant, with an unbearable lightness 

I revisit your room again and again, in memory, 

your stuffed monkey, iPad, videos 

Only your music box bleats a tune, as familiar as home.