Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Foley Catheter

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

Something-other-than-a-husband, jumble
                       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
                       Intimacy
           Another intimacy

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.

Credit


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

Author


Kimberly Johnson

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