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Scurvy by Faith Shearin

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I feel the panic spreading like piss on snow. You learn someone dies, someone else is in the hospital. What can I do to keep myself safe, what can I do to not be filled with worry every waking moment, what can I do against everything I cannot see?

Nightmares night after night. It’s like picking at a scab, a wound that refuses to heal. Everything coming undone.

I pound my chest, I say, toughen up, you in there.

Faith Shearin

When sailors crossed the oceans
their gums bled and their teeth
grew as loose as screen doors

in the wind. They ate old biscuits
and salted meats and bruises
appeared like stains over

their bodies and then they began
unhealing: the arm they broke
as a child when they fell from

a tree unmended and the gash
in their knee when they were thrown
from a horse reopened. All the old

wounds were new, as if
time had undone itself, as if
each injury is permanent,

just waiting to show itself again.
It was worse the second time,
not having fallen from a tree

or horse, but suffering anyway,
in the middle of the ocean, where,
for weeks, no land was visible.

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This poem appeared in Telling the Bees by Faith Shearin, published by Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2015. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Faith ShearinFind books by this poet • Or view my library 

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