Iowa Writes

The Elegance of Slow Poisoning

Chemotherapy terminology has it wrong.
Taxotere sounds tame. Why not hemlock?
Not cytoxan, but deadly nightshade.

Agatha Christie had it right.
For suspense you cannot surpass
the elegance of slow poisoning.

One day the lips white as the linen
that wrapped the young cowboy,
as cold as the clay.

The next the roof of the mouth
as roughly textured as saddle hide --
the nose running, the eyes glazed.

Then beloved coffee turned to river mud
and blessed wine to vinegar
by the treacherous tastebuds.

At night, the turncoat joints
clamoring in the bedroom
where the old lady whispers hush.

The hair in the drain in morbid swirls
like that harvested from the departed
and woven into mementos in Victorian times.

Not even a brow to raise at having given permission
for this mayhem, this invasion of one's own Normandy,
the good cells up to their hips in water as deep as the bad.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Rebecca Christian is an Ames, Iowa writer whose plays include "First Lady Lou" and the musical comedy revue "Mothering Heights" (music by Tracy Rush).  She writes a regular column for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, and she is co-author (with Katherine Fischer) of the book That's Our Story, and We're Sticking To It.

This page was first displayed
on November 05, 2014

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