Jan Steckel, 7/12

The Elect Decline

Lord pass over me.
God, pass over me.
Don’t make me hold someone else’s
dying child in my arms.
Don’t make me clasp the hands
of women giving birth,
their eyes the eyes of horses
trapped in burning stables.
Don’t choose me, Lord.
I don’t want to be Chosen.
I just want to be happy.
I don’t need to be Yours.
Predictable ragged heartbreak:
icebergs of bills, disability,
belly fat, signals of mortality–
Lord, pass over me.
Let this pass from me.
I just want to hold someone else’s
hiccupping baby in my arms.
Frog Soup
Marriage drops you like
a frog into a pot of cool water.
At first you feel a proprietary glow
about your spouse’s endearing eccentricities.
Over the years, the glow becomes a fire.
You start to squirm a bit.
You don’t jump out of the pot,
because the incremental changes are small.
Each hard word raises the temperature,
each small cruelty, each callous act
makes the broth hotter.
Nothing is forgotten.
If you’re Jewish, like me,
nothing is forgiven, either.
When you finally realize
you’re being boiled alive,
it’s too late.
You’re frog soup.
Jan Steckel is a retired pediatrician, a bisexual and disability rights activist, and a poet and writer. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, Bi Women, Red Rock Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) won a Rainbow Award for lesbian and bisexual poetry. Her Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) won the Gertrude Press fiction chapbook award. Her first full-length poetry book, The Horizontal Poet, is just out from Zeitgeist Press. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband Hew Wolff.

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