He will say strong. They always do. The ending’s spoiled.
Spoiled, too, as I learned today from my doctor, probably my spine.
Or, more technically, my thoracic spinal nerves. In one of them,
my doctor thinks, a lesion. Bright erasure. Corrosive smudge.
(Why do I always want these new eyelets in my brain to suggest
light?) Just a little one, she postulates, pre-MRI. A little one
that could turn python, swallow whole my feet. With MS, it’s impossible
to predict an ending—my checkup tests a catalogue of potential
losses: Balance. Reflexes. Vision. Memory. Strength. She holds down
my arms one by one. Push back, she says, andI do. For now. At home,
unfocused on my work or my country, I prime my abdomen
for injection. The drug burns its acidic promise, leaves its welting,
subcutaneous kiss. Stay strong, my dad incants through the phone.
I decline. On Capitol Hill, the President rises to a paroxysm of applause.
Emily Rose Cole is the author of a chapbook, Love & a Loaded Gun, from Minerva Rising Press. She has received awards from Jabberwock Review, Philadelphia Stories, and the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2018, Spoon River Poetry Review, The Pinch, and Southern Indiana Review, among others. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is pursuing a PhD in Poetry and Disability Studies at the University of Cincinnati. You can reach her via her website at emilyrosecolepoetry.com.