Home Sick


Raggedy Ann bed sheets cover

my aching body, smother

moans of malady.

I call to you.

It is a morning we will be together.


At my bedside, you place

the back of your hand on my

forehead, announce

that I am sick.


I write these words outside time.


Dad gone to work,

little sisters skip out

toward school.

Just us two here.


Next year you don’t believe the stories about him.


Through the red haze of fever

silver edges of your cats-eye glasses

fly into view. I always thought those

edges were angel wings.


Next year my sisters and I go to foster care.


Skin scorching, I whimper

don’t want to throw up.

You tell me it’ll feel better

when it’s out.


A month later, you decide our stories are true.


Today you tap Chopin’s étude

against my arm

urge me to rest,

then head to the kitchen.


When we return, you sink into depression.


I concentrate

on your humming


like a metronome.


In three years I run away from your moaning.


Mouth filled with copper,

the world spins by

but I get to hear

your music.


You find me, send me to live with strangers.


Today my stomach lurches

sweat drips down my face

I yell for the bowl

your footsteps fill the hallway.


In four years I cross state lines to escape you.


This morning you bring

the sturdy steel

to catch the contents

rumbling in my belly.


When I return, you are an island and I have no boat.


But today you reach toward me.

Today I unload. Out of time

I hurl words onto this paper.

You hold my hair.





DenchfieldPamela-headshotPamela Denchfield lives an hour east of Seattle. Her work has appeared on QuillandParchment.com and in the anthology Here, There, and Everywhere. In her day job, Pamela writes instructions for building flow charts and leads style meetings discussing the value of the Oxford comma. Unfortunately, commas don’t sit well with flow charts. She spends many evenings writing, publicizing poetry readings, and attending open mics. When not consumed with poetry and prose, she can often be found in the kitchen, creating delicious vegan meals for herself and her husband, with their German shepherd snacking on  discarded broccoli stalks.