It’s been decades since
my body held a narrative
clear and simple. It turned
to poetry long ago, when
a refrain emerged, was
repeated with life
interrupted once, then
again, and again.

A poem always begins
in the middle, or someplace
nearby, because truly, have you
ever tried telling a poet
to begin at the beginning?

When doctors ask me,
or my daughters, how
our illnesses began, oh,
the poems we compose
on paper-lined examination
tables, each one of us a stanza
braided to the other to the other,
with no beginning and no end.

The poet in me dares not ask,
if we are always muddling
around in the endless looping
middle of this story, how
might we ever write our way out?

From Days of Grace and Silence: A Chronicle of COVID’s Long Haul (Kelsay Books, 2024). Copyright © 2024 by Ann E. Wallace. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.