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Love in the Skilled Nursing Unit
Dawn McGuire


After Sappho’s Fragment 31


Whacked with a bat
in Dolores Park for his wallet,
Ari can't make new memories.
All day he lives in Then,

except when his wife of three
decades stands in the doorway.
In her dun-colored muumuu,
sandals from Thrift-Co
that leave enough room
for her hammertoes,
she’s Aphrodite.

He whoops and sighs,
tries to unlock his Geri-chair,
his face flushed, then pale
as maiden grass.

Suddenly he’s mute,
his tongue,
broken by beauty.

That's when I'd give
my temporal lobe,
my hippocampus whole,
for his cheap blue gown;
to gaze upon that love again
by which one is first made,
inflamed, destroyed,

then raised
to aerial ash
again and again.


© by Dawn McGuire.
Used with the author’s permission.






Dawn McGuire is Adjunct Professor of Neurology at the Neurosciences Institute of Morehouse School of Medicine. She is also the author of three poetry collections: The Aphasia Café, Sleeping in Africa, and Hands On. Raised in Eastern Kentucky, Dawn now divides her time between Atlanta and Northern California.





Post New Comment:
As someone who did time in Neuro cognitive rehab after my pregnancy related stroke this poem hit home for me and brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of one of my fellow patients. Thank you for writing this beautiful poem! Where can I find your books?
Posted 08/19/2022 01:11 PM
Totally in agreement with Jean > What a sock in the belly poem! Only difference was I experienced a solar-plexus waltz of unimaginable beauty. Thank you,Dawn for the gift of your creative talent.
Posted 02/12/2017 04:38 PM
Wilda Morris:
Great updating of Sappho! Wow!
Posted 02/12/2017 03:27 PM
Lori Levy:
Beautiful and powerful.
Posted 02/12/2017 02:10 PM
wendy morton:
A poem filled with grace.
Posted 02/12/2017 10:36 AM
A wonderful poem!!
Posted 02/12/2017 09:39 AM
Posted 02/12/2017 09:10 AM
Poignant! Not to mention so many creative images (Aphrodite with hamertoes!)
Posted 02/12/2017 09:08 AM
Jean Colonomos-1:
What a sock in the belly poem!
Posted 02/12/2017 08:26 AM
Larry Schug:
Lesson? "The greatest of these is love".
Posted 02/12/2017 07:58 AM
I loved the line "broken by beauty." Wow! What a poem!
Posted 02/12/2017 07:47 AM
Wow, Dawn. Delicate yet substantial. Your images, metaphors, verbs, adjectives all noteworthy. A poetry lesson for us all. Thanks.
Posted 02/12/2017 07:31 AM
Gilbert Allen:
That last stanza is terrific.
Posted 02/12/2017 06:58 AM
This is an amazing and amazingly strong poem.
Posted 02/12/2017 06:40 AM
When I first read this, 'Then' resembled 'Thor'. As I reread, the hammer-wielding is replaced by a 'Skilled Nursing Unit' but a god-like power is still there. It must be 'Love'.
Posted 02/12/2017 05:51 AM
Oh, my...That was delicious...
Posted 02/12/2017 03:15 AM

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