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Imperial Twitch


Plush carpeting
Sleek screens
Exotic fruit and
Green tea
First-class on trains is penetrable, and they have chips and soda
But there is no mistaking first-class in the hospital

With patrician nose, stately curls and angular jaw
Like a bust I once saw
Of the emperor Hadrian
His zillion thread count sheets
Concealing the indignity of that shapeless gown
I stand cloaked
In the shadow of the phalanx of white-coated hand-wringing

Strong limbs — tic tic tic
Fascic fascic fascic
Small twitchings, fasciculations
Even his tongue has the itch
Like little stitches
Being made by tiny tailors under the seam of his skin
All along his arms
It hardly takes a neurologist
To notice
His reign would not outlast Hadrian’s

The attending still standing
ALS. A-L-S. Less. Less. Less.
You have ALS
The attending said
EMG later, to confirm
His intelligent eyes said
This is alphabet soup to me
And his face clouds into stone
But the twitching does not abate

This is a lot to take in
In 90 seconds, he said
We are silent for a moment —
Statues ourselves

Mary McGunigal Mary McGunigal (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Mary is a student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Class of 2017.