The Course of a Relationship

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The following won second place in the Poetry division of the Walter Spara Writing Contest sponsored by the Department of English and Communications in the spring semester, 2012.

by Brooke Martin

The Course of a Relationship

Like the flu,

It can begin with just a touch.

Once you‘re infected,

It can take only days to develop into an illness.

Sometimes you take precautions,

but the vaccine doesn’t always protect.


It begins with that jumpy stomach,

A touch of nausea.

My stomach churns and roils

and turns itself into knots.

It causes my breath to catch in my throat

and clatter in my chest.


There’s warm chicken noodle soup,

Cuddling up in a flannel blanket on the couch

With my favorite movie or book.

Sometimes it’s just a few days off

From the dreary drudge-work life.

Until the complications arise

And it develops into something



Fever sets in.

Nights are spent in tangled, toss-turned sheets.

A breath of air across my heated body

Raises chill bumps

And cools my fervent skin.

I am left shattered in the aftermath

And tumult of sweat-stained sheets.


Time passes,

The aches and pains grow agonizing.

Angry, harsh sounds are wracked from my lungs.

They scrape against my chest,

Bring tears to my eyes.

It’s the beginning of the end.


The nausea fades.

The fever recedes.

It has run its course.


Sometimes the cough lingers.

The weakness remains awhile longer.

If I’m not careful,