Treatment Team by Victoria Korth

Victoria Korth is the 2nd place winner of Streetlight’s 2021 Poetry Contest

Treatment Team

Found lying in a parking lot
on Union Street, close to the shelter

where she’d been in flight
from a husband who sex-trafficked

on and off: a delusion she was prone to,
one resistant to meds. Found splayed

across chalk lines, knitted cap
knocked off, balding head’s few strands

splotched tar—she had breast cancer
in addition to bipolar, you see

was childlike off her meds, lost
to our expertise. That’s the way it is,

an ember melting us together,
annealing, it burns,

but not completely enough
to keep her free of sepsis,

thirst, natural fears, foreign
cells, neglect. Had I seen

the other doctors’ messages
in time, alert to fungus

blooming in her marrow,
told them she was ours.

I linger in the hallway outside Evan’s door,
touch his plaque: Master of Social Work,

near to mine: doctor of medicine.
Although you came to this profession

certain of futility, I wish to hear him say,
blind to beauty, asleep to grace,

you have unlearned much.
Let me in, Evan, please, let me in.

Two Stained Glass Windows paired together
Stained Glass by John K. Thorne. CC license.

Victoria Korth
Victoria Korth is the recipient of the 2020 Montreal International Poetry Prize. Poems have appeared in Broad River Review, Ocean State Review, Tar River Poetry, LEON Literary Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Barrow Street, and widely elsewhere. Korth’s Cord Color was released from Finishing Line Press in 2015, and Tacking Stitch is forthcoming, 2022. She is an MFA graduate of the Warren Wilson College Program for Writers and hold an MA in English/Creative Writing from SUNY Brockport. She lives in Western New York State where she is a practicing psychiatrist caring for the chronically mentally ill.

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