I clean its latex length three times a day
With kindliest touch,
Swipe an alcohol swatch
From the tender skin at the tip of him
Down the lumen
To the drainage bag I change
Each day and flush with vinegar.
When I vowed for worse
Unwitting did I wed this
Of exposed plumbing
And euphemism. Fumble
I through my nurse’s functions, upended
From the spare bed
By his every midnight sound.
Unsought inside our grand romantic
Opens—ruthless and indecent, consuming
All our hiddenmosts.
In a body, immodest
Such hunger we sometimes call tumor;
In a marriage
It’s cherish. From the Latin for cost.
Copyright © 2020 by Kimberly Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“This poem arose out of the experience of caring for my spouse as he underwent prolonged treatment for cancer.”
Kimberly Johnson was born on January 9, 1971, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD in Renaissance literature from the University of California at Berkeley.
Johnson is the author of three poetry collections: Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014), A Metaphorical God (Persea Books, 2008), and Leviathan with a Hook (Persea Books, 2002).
In her review of A Metaphorical God, Lisa Russ Spaar writes, “Johnson’s poems adopt a number of their forms from mystical or sacred texts—psalms, divinations, odes, hymns, spells—but her settings are as earthbound as her own scorched backyard garden or the driver’s seat of a white pickup careering down a highway during a thunderstorm.”
A literary critic and translator as well as a poet, Johnson is also the author of the scholarly work Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), a translation of Virgil’s Georgics (Penguin, 2011), and Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days (Northwestern University Press, 2017).
Johnson is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Utah Arts Council. She teaches creative writing and Renaissance literature at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Date Published: 2020-01-15
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/foley-catheter