Editor’s note: This spring, Health Affairs held its first ever poetry contest. Three winning poems were published in the journal. We’re also featuring some of our other favorites on the Blog throughout the month of October.

You Are A Job

You forget that you are someone’s job

something they want to hurry away from

a way to pay bills, daycare, college fees

 

You remember when your butt goes numb

45 minutes of hard plastic pressed in soft flesh

You remember when supper comes late,

 

tea cup, empty, soup cold, or missing,

no tater tots, no salad, no grapes

each and every day, irksome things you cannot undo

 

When help disappears and pain is invisible

though sniffed, scrubbed with disinfectant hand gels

you learn to plan many moves ahead,

 

wrap requests in ribbons, create sequences,

hoard packets of sugar, salt, pepper, dressings,

call for help an hour before the ambulatory

flee your immobile flesh for home.

– Akua Lezli Hope

 

New Rule For Eating

new rule for eating: eat everything with love

love the dew on the furry stalks of tiny heirloom tomatoes the

explosion of asparagus tips being snapped from the stalk the

astringent intrusion of a carrot stick in the roof of your mouth the vivid

lucidity of orange peel drying in the sun

 

resist all urges to quibble with salty celery spikes – nibble them tenderly

do not fret over peppers – embrace them all

 

nuzzle edible flower petals

hold melons in your hands, feel the aromatic, tender weight of them

 

blush

 

ripe

 

suck the marrow of tangerines

lie back

the scent of cucumber caresses your eyelids

squeeze juicy strawberries until they burst between your fingers

lick and feed yourself

pour lemon juice through your hair

your salad, yourself

 

revel in it

adore it

be at peace

 

love the parade bringing fruit to your lips

love the food circus and everyone in it

 

new rule for eating: swoon

-Jean Vignes