Renee Emerson


The language of hospitals is wrapped
individually, in peel-apart plastic,
draped in thin bed sheets, tie-gowns,
in beds and carts with wheels so it all
can be shoved aside for the God-arm
of emergency surgery.
Against the balanced mechanics
of the body, white coats and scrubs
add sums, check times.

Patients are categorized by room, pockets
in an advent calendar, the smaller the number,
higher the risk. Every morning they take notes
on how her body renamed her with its needs.

Like the bad student, I keep to the back.
In Latin, they tell each other she can not be saved.
I am here to say “Soul”; I am here to say “baby.”



Renee Emerson is a homeschooling mom of seven, and the author of Church Ladies (forthcoming from Fernwood Press, 2022), Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016), and Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). Her poetry has been published in Cumberland River Review, Windhover, and Poetry South. She adjunct teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University, and blogs about poetry, grief, and motherhood at www.reneeemerson.com.