Maggie Jochild


Four of the air masks failed he says
Twelve men, eight oxygen packs
I shared mine with an older man
I don't know why I lived

While I was in surgery, my friends
decorated my room with pictures
Things from home, Xena toys
They cheered when I was wheeled back in
I could not recognize two of them
Later a nurse asked me about
the plastic sword; I told her
I had no idea. The only number
I could write was seven

My memories were still there
but my pathway had been erased
like ant trail pheromones wiped away
Years afterward I come up against
a void in the map
beyond this point are monsters
If I push on
the tunnel will clear
On the other side waits
remembrance, mine once more

We bury the dead with their memories
still encoded inside their brains
No spark to light the way again
No air to fill the sails



At the end of that row of shops with clean
glass windows and gilt names in trendy fonts
Right before the cemetery which marbled
Up the hills, lombardy poplars elbowing
Eucalyptus, graves thick as matches in a box
At the gates was a parking lot which every October
Got half covered with straw and piled up
Orange and globular by pumpkins
Saving us the drive to Half Moon Bay Pricey, of course, and the little gourds
Ornamental squash, Indian corn
Were set at ridiculous rates
But a pumpkin or two we could afford
Haul them home and invite over the
Neighbor boys, hand out markers and
Real knives, no fooling around with those
Supermarket versions -- if they sliced
Off a finger, it would be a Halloween
They'd never forget, now wouldn't it? Then they were called home and we had
Supper with the smell of roasting seeds
Taking over the whole apartment. We would
Light candles and set the jacks on our sill
Walk around the block slowly for the thrill
Of coming back home and seeing the flicker
Your arm in mine, talking my ears off
Me struggling not to wheeze, not to Be stopped by the burn in my knees and feet
You believed I was lazy, just needed to
Get in shape. The x-rays and diagnosis
Were still ten years away, and I was willing
To let you name my disease as sloth
Because you loved me, why would you say
Such a cutting thing if it were not true?

BIO: Maggie Jochild of Austin, Texas has twice won Astraea Lesbian Writer's Fund awards for her poetry, most recently in 2005. She was for four years a core writing and performing member of Actual Lives, a page-to-stage theater troupe for adults with disabilities directed by Terry Galloway. She has been published in Sinister Wisdom, Natural Bridge, Borderlands, Bridges, Earth's Daughters, and many other journals. She is sixth-generation Texan, third-generation Lesbian, and is currently working on a novel.