Wednesday, April 12, 2017

National Poetry Month, Diabetes Edition.

Aside from the spacing/kerning that makes me twitchy, after who knows how long, I finally wrote a poem about diabetes I'm mostly pleased about. It's freeverse. It's meant to be performed [if I like it, maybe I'll video?] aloud. I originally posted this to Facebook, but have since taken it down so I can share it more widely (and hopefully more copyrighted-ly) with you.
to Anyone Who Has Ever Said "Needles!..."

I just blink pleasantly as you finish,
Because I know your monologue by heart:
"Ohhh, I don't know if I could ever do that.
Needles are the worst! I'd be so afraid!"
I'm not here to belittle a legitimate phobia,
But I am also jaded enough to gag
On your sentiment.

If you required a needle
Injecting anywhere under your skin
To stay alive each day
You'd do it.
After 27 years of this,
On days your body doesn't feel
Like a walking pincushion,
You can feel like a healthy person,
Or a husk starving for water and sleep,
Or a ravenous scavenger, devouring anything in sight to stay alive.

When you wake with the sun,
Sometimes you remember to thank some unknown
That you woke at all,
Or you can thank a juice box meant for a toddler,
Thank that bag of old Skittles from your purse,
Thank your giant water glass, a vial of insulin, a small syringe..
You prepare for your work day,
Stuffing medical necessities in a commuter bag,
No matter how short the commute.

Load a series of devices that chart and graph and calculate
In with your belongings, alongside the phone, maybe the smart watch,
And try not to feel like a collection of numbers running for a bus,
Don't grouch at the lady in line for artisan coffee
Who tsk-tsks at your selection of an artificial sweetener.,
Don't give your officemate a speech
When she offers what she believes to be body-positive encouragement
Because you joke about the carb count of the free bagels.

When you visit your doctor,
Notice how you feel like a walking data set.
Daydream in the waiting room
About the other data sets sitting nearby.
Who has better numbers?
Do insulin pumps dream of electric islets?
Because you love math geeks, do you want them
To analyze your standard deviations when you can’t look?

Is it hilarious that you suck at tipping
And algebra and doing your taxes
But you can rattle off a correctly calculated ratio
To decrease your blood glucose after eating?

When the mother of a child with diabetes
Calls you "brave", just warmly smile
And share something positive.
Is there bravery in acting as your own organ?
Is it brave to function as a normal person?
Smile. Say something nice to her.
Don't let on there's a tingle in your toes
And extra blood vessels somewhere in your eyes.
Pretend you don’t have a pillbox tucked away
With pills to encourage your serotonin and dopamine.

They don't want to hear this.
They see your 27 years of what you consider “good enough”
As a miracle, a celebration, sometimes you might feel it too.
27 years of the day's tiny stabbings
Produce a quiet pride in the right light,

27 years of unwanted but well-meant concern,
27 years of advertisements that the cure is 10 years away,
27 years of other people's opinions
On your meals and your body and your medication doses
And you haven't punched a single person?!
Maybe it's bravery after all.