Touch: The Journal of Healing



Purple Suspenders

    by Susan Kelley

While waiting I imagine

the scalpel leaves a red wake.

Blood runs in thin trickles from

four stab wounds in his belly

deep into its steaming gullies

made for their long thin steel tools.

Clamp sponge suture tie and cut.

Green of cloth, white of sponges

red and yellow of the body

pink, gleaming membranes,

albuminoid, proteinaceous.

The liver a dark sun on the right

pink sweep of stomach, secret colors,

maroon, salmon, yellow meadows of

fat, the red sweat that trickles at a touch

the slow slide of intestines like a family

of pale snakes taking their comfort

seen through the moist and jungly

cleft their hands have made because

down an estuary of pearl

lies a purple turgid mass,

an exuberant bloody growth,

toadish, fungoid, an uncleft

tumefaction bathed in ruby bloom.


In the lobby he reached out of the ceiling

and put his best strong arms around me

the ones I haven’t felt since he began to shrink.

“You have to go back,” I told him, pushing away,

but I held on to his hand until the doctor

came out and told me it was done.


Now between the ribbed vault

of his chest and the sturdy dinghy

of his pelvis are 4 healing incisions,

too sore for hard-buttoned jeans.

He indignantly refuses to wear

sweatpants outside a gym.

His ski duffle is old and stiff like us.

I have to work the zipper hard

to get a small opening, fish

with a finger until I hook a loop

then haul out broad purple straps,

ski suspenders we bought at Northstar.

I offer them to him to so he can leave

his jeans unbuttoned and unzipped

which he agrees better suits his sense of style.

© 2012  Susan Kelley

Susan Kelley is a retired information systems manager who lives in Santa Cruz, California. She has studied poetry in Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program and at Foothill College. Her poems have appeared in the journals Caesura, Fresh Hot Bread, 5 2 Poetry, and The Lowestoft Chronicle.

Copyright © 2012

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.