The Pain Suit

By Claire Bateman

If you happen to live in a broad and open place,
you can watch as it comes flying in your direction—

not really a suit, of course, just the mask and gloves,
though considering its effect, the term is apt.

You can’t hope it’s hunting some stranger, since everyone knows
that it’s visible only to its destined bearer;

you can’t clutch at bystanders, seeking a human shield,
since it passes through every obstruction without even slowing.

It’s probably best to become a city-dweller,
surrounded by walls, oblivious to its approach,

unless you’re one of the those fools who step forward to meet it,
flexing their fingers to feel for the cleanest fit.


Claire Bateman is the author of WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD forthcoming from 42 Miles Books, and eight other poetry books. She has been awarded Fellowships from the NEA, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and has received the New Millennium Writing Award (twice) and two Pushcart Prizes. She has taught at the Greenville Fine Arts Center, Clemson University and various conferences, including Bread Loaf and the Bloch Island Poetry Festival. She is also a visual artist.

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