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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 4, December 2012


Frances Ruhlen McConnel
Claremont, California, U.S.A.

Dialysis in February

In the dialysis room at the Seattle kidney center, like wilted flowers in a row of pots, patients in chair-recliners are hooked up to a kind of life-support, crimson tubes spider around them.

My daughter feeds our patient bits of a doughnut and then tiny sips of water. Swallowing sometimes makes him retch. She goes out to fetch us coffee and he tells me about the horses his family owned when he was a boy in Iowa. I’ve seen a photo of him on a horse, my daughter and his teenage daughter riding beside him. This was taken the first year of their marriage, not that long ago. He is upright and easy in the saddle, almost too tall for his mount. He asks me what today’s date is and I tell him, adding that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. He repeats this twice, struggling to store the information.

When my daughter returns, Doctor M. is quizzing him, asking him what month we’re in. He hesitates and we hold our breath. He says, “February?” and we cheer.

I haven’t told on him until now.

dark raindrops splotch
the streets. on our lattes
perfect foam hearts.



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