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