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Allison Titus

vii. How to dress a wound

Dear nurse, there are always several endings to choose from. Every suffix prepared like a gift. A series of cots to rearrange. A method of cold to break fever. Of course you have witnessed worse. The thorax in the jar the doctor sealed. Those schoolgirls conjoined at the liver. You have grieved every anatomy. Lowered your kerchief to every bedside, smoothed every coverlet and smock.

How I wish you might visit these waters. That your quiet hands would unrope these trawl scars. Pull the salt rot clear from the ridges. Dear nurse. I imagine your small kitchen. Your polished utensils lined up in the drawer. The way you watch from your window the ships at the wharf, fastening the buttons spelled down your cuff.

from Instructions from the Narwhal


Allison Titus lives in Richmond, Virginia. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from jubilat, Denver Quarterly, Caketrain, Crazyhorse, and Redivider, among others.