Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Day I Learn Her Diagnosis

I walk to clear my head.
There are no angels living under
the freeway overpass, no colors

where you are from, your brain
a jumble of neurons,
stretched and hiccupping.

Soon snow will come, fill
the negative space of your body’s
landing, erase all evidence

that once you painted a blank
canvas with your fear
unbuttoned. I have carried you

like a stone inside hope-emptied
pockets, like shame, like a word
I could not say out loud.

Now a voice, less heard than felt,
hallows my deepest parts,
opens me like a Bible.

Oh, Mama, can you picture it?
Me on my knees, the moon
in a mad orange flare.


Copyright © 2020 by Kari Gunter-Seymour. This poem originally appeared in Still: The Journal, Fall 2020. Used with permission of the author.


Kari Gunter-Seymour

Kari Gunter-Seymour is the author of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020). She was named the Poet Laureate of Ohio in 2020. In 2021, she received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.

Date Published: 2020-09-01

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