It Depends

By Lisa Rhoades 

Featured art Still Life with Bottle, Carafe, Bread, and Wine by Claude Monet

We are all sick. We are all dying.
This is more or less
the truth, depending on the day.
Depending on the location,
some more than others
are headed home with hospice, toward
a tragic confrontation, a chicken bone, black ice.
Maybe it’s because of breakfast—
years of bitter coffee, the eggs
we were warned away from,
bracelets of sweet cereal O’s.

Perhaps it would help
if more of us knew CPR,
unless it all depends
on the weather of our hearts.
Don’t be fooled
by how quickly flesh folds
back into itself to heal,
or by the ones who are limping,
waxy-skinned and quiet. They will not carry
your part of this forever.
Maybe you should cover your cough,
not be so careless with knives.

Lisa Rhoades is the author of The Long Grass (Saint Julian Press, 2020) and Strange Gravity (Bright Hill Press, 2004). Individual poems have appeared at Barrow Street, Poetry East, Prime Number, Saranac Review, South Carolina Review, and Psaltery&Lyre among others. In addition to teaching poetry, she works as a pediatric nurse in Manhattan. She lives on Staten Island with her spouse and their two children. Find her online at:

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