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The Chicken Pox, November

As if it's still July, three days she goes
without a shirt, in underwear, and I'm
a backward gardener, each little rose
I dab and try to kill with calamine.
They're everywhere those hiding on her scalp,
within an elbow's crook, behind a knee,
the ones inside her throat she strains to gulp
away like Brussels sprouts. This fourth day she
allows my hands to slowly slip her thin
pajamas on, and there's the softest rush
of grief to realize next week her skin
won't need and won't recall my careful touch
as fragile as this snow that all around
begins to fall but melts on still-warm ground.

Elise Hempel


If you have any comments on this poem, Elise Hempel would be pleased to hear from you.

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