Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CURE PORCHES, by MARGOT SCHILPP

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CURE PORCHES, by                    
First Line: Long before I was born, my aunt johanna caught
Subject(s): Aunts; Hospitals; Tuberculosis; Consumption (pathology)

Long before I was born, my aunt Johanna caught
galloping consumption. Her parents converted
their verandah into a closed porch
where she could sleep in winter, breathe

Black Forest air. Rx: Rest. Fresh air.
Nights, she and my father cuddled for warmth.
At White Haven Sanatorium the poor and very sick,
the almost dead, were moved to Shack I,

Department No. 3, but not before paying
the state with work for their care
while coughing up the blood and foul nodules
of the disease. Graded exercise. Strychnia.

At Saranac Lake the structures announce illness
from the past. These homes were adapted
so wealthy patients could take cure
in the Adirondacks' air, outside but sheltered.

Germicides by inhalation. Hydrotherapy.
Innocuous planks and boards concealed all
the accoutrements - disposable sputum cups
where tubercule bacilli collected, cure chairs

that placed one in the Fowler position, best
in which to breathe, stone pigs filled
with hot water to warm patients' feet.
Dr. Angney's gaseous enemas at the House of Mercy.

Sliding windows facing South were added to porches
where owners rented space. But, Johanna. Not rich,
she had lain for weeks in bed, wasting.
Liniments. Iron. The last morning

my father awakened to her body beside him.
She endured experiments with serums and milk.
She slept nearly outside, enveloped by dampness.
She defeated all the architecture.

Copyright Margot Schilpp.

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