My body heat is at a modicum:
Say, ninety-eight point two or one or so.
Foreboding naught particularly glum
Except a disposition to succumb
To fevers only cooler heads can know.



Some other hand has wound the clock within
Me and its workings rarely reach my ear.
Yet sometimes veins as blue as porcelain
Insinuate a voice beneath the skin
That whispers soft, “still here…still here…still here…”



Each time she wraps the cuff about my arm
And tightens it till numbers I beget,
It strikes me yet again with some alarm
That though I’ve caused the world but little harm
The hardness of my heart may kill me yet.



I know full well each breath’s a separate thing,
Yet somehow sense there’s really only one:
It flows through me like something on the wing,
It lifts the soul aloft and gently brings
Me back to Eden’s green, first breath begun.



Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Agape Review, America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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5 Responses

  1. jd

    A lovely poem to greet the morning, Jeffrey
    and one that calls for re-reading.
    Thank you.

  2. Tonia Kalouria

    This mundane Life Force you describe becomes, indeed, ethereal. Lovely.

  3. Cynthia Erlandson

    A very pleasurable read — just lighthearted enough to bring a smile — and I love the rhyme scheme.

  4. Margaret Coats

    A witty charting of each of the usually measured physical signs, showing that the patient’s mind, soul, and spirit seem to be working as well as his body.


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