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.
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,