If the magazines mark my success,
I am failing—at casseroles and sex

and kids—I hate all labels
for being us— just us, childless,

child-free, free range,
career angled, wrangled.

What about when you.
And what if. And don’t you

feel. And won’t you. Who will.
Suppose. Didn’t you. Don’t you. You’re still.

No, I’m not. We’re not. Most days
I’m too polite to say

what I will say here: Fuck off.
Most days I wonder if

we are really we anymore.
I am my weary body.

Almost 50 and weary.
The husband is busy working.

I am waiting for my name to be called.
The tech is inspecting a chart.

Dear God, she blurts.
That’s me, I shoot back,

put down the Ladies Home
Guide to Suicide and confirm

my birth date. She’s sorry for the wait
like this is a fast food joint.

Everything here is party colored—her
deep pink scrubs, the orange tourniquet,

sea foam butterfly, the vial caps,
coded depending on their additives

and additive functions—so you can’t just say,
but I like lavender and get your way.

Extend please. Grip please. Hold tight. Small prick.
(It’s an odd sort of shtick.)

I’ve developed a habit of looking
away. I’ve developed a habit of spilling

my summer’s worth of medical woes
and beverages. If you’re nice, they’ll let you choose

your Band-Aid or bandage tape color.
I get Dora.

I get 11 vials taken.
After, I get an oatmeal muffin and a tea.

Because I was fasting in case and it’s 2:00,
this’ll have to do.


Leah Nielsen lives and teaches in Westfield, Massachusetts. Her first collection of poems, No Magic, was published by Word Press. Her chapbook, Side Effects May Include, which examines the state of permanent patienthood, was published in 2014 by The Chapbook.

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