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To feel the intravenous
needle’s pinch, this cold
rush of openness
as I’m swiveled, rolled

out, to smell the coffee down
the hallway, see my feet
below the hem of my blue gown.
And then not even a neat

closing in, no tunnel, no
narrowing curve of darkness, just
time gone. Then this slow
rising back to what it must

have been like to be born,
to hear the nurse, some blurred refrain,
as I exit blankness, return
to hospital light, my name.


Elise Hempel’s poems have appeared in numerous journals over the years, including Poetry, Measure, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and The Midwest Quarterly, as well as in Poetry Daily and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Her full-length collection of poems, Second Rain, was published by Able Muse Press in 2016. She lives in central Illinois.

© 2019, Elise Hempel

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