After Anchorage IV

of gadolinium, November-veined, copper on the tongue
            & summoning sleep & ether though wide-awake
after click & whir & click again of excision & extraction 

& artery notched & every hand in the dim back room
            summoned to press the bloodied breast to bone
& told to find calm & stay calm & O type O negative

& calm & fuck the radiologist who would remember 
            the day years after, bumbling mutters   
& with whiskey-thick fingers on black Friday & routine

gone awry & no luck for transfusion & hours later
            to be wheeled out into the familiar lobby to my 
children’s father & my father who, terse & inconvenienced

would warn me off from flying the next day & the next
            through Seattle & de Gaulle & landing bleary at Boryspil
& to blur through birch woods, woozy still, & sore

& o sour viburnum opulus & o ash & ache to come 


Copyright © 2023 by Joan Naviyuk Kane. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 6, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“I wrote the poem ‘After Anchorage IV’ about a doctor hitting one of my arteries during a last-minute biopsy in November 2015, the day after so-called Thanksgiving, and a day before I was scheduled to fly to Ukraine with the International Writing Program. It’s part of a new series called ‘After Anchorage,’ and while I try to employ other poetic forms, this one’s in a ‘hell tercet’ familiar to me in these last years. Lately, I’m writing in a more narrative vein; this poem’s symptomatic of what [John] Keats called an ‘irritable reaching after fact,’ contrary to his notion of negative capability.”
—Joan Naviyuk Kane