In Extremis

By Patricia Kirkpatrick Patricia Kirkpatrick

You don’t get everything back.
Is today morning or night? The radio voice says
the composer is changing the place home is.
When they try to put a tube down her throat,
the woman beside me sobs. Nurses probe
a vein as she thrashes, call the Hmong translator.

Once a boy told me, in Laos he sat in a tree
all night. Father pay me dollar for every man I’m shooting.
When there’s water to cross, the fish, caught,
get needled through gill slits. Down the dark hall,
machines bleat at each bed. Eyes open and shut: flashes,
detachment, vitreous gel. Her son, seven years old,
comes after school, peels oranges, watches football,
changing the place home is.

Source: Poetry (April 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2012
 Patricia   Kirkpatrick


Patricia Kirkpatrick has published Century’s Road (Holy Cow! Press, 2004) and books for young readers, including Plowie: A Story from the Prairie (Harcourt, 2004).

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Patricia Kirkpatrick

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, The Body

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.