Tracy Koretsky


Blonde and strawberry-skinned
you stretch, supple and lanky in your black Speedo,
the dazzle off the ripples like sparks flashing from you.

Your words above the gentle
break of my sidestroke across the turquoise pool
are filled with boys and mother rebellion. You are nineteen.

This is how I think of you now.

            Not waiting
                     for your tubes to be changed
                              hoping the nurse can find a wide vein,
            waiting to be rolled
            waiting for dinner
                              breakfast waiting
                     for the team
                     to open your young chest beneath close washing light
                     and fill you
                     with of all things --

Balloons instead of lungs for you, a gift

because you know the name of your disease scary and scarcely sounded.
Your mother found it in a book when she was trying to name herself.
And now you are the book or will be after they test you

            publish you
                  send you back to start again

with your gift of balloons

yellow, I hope
full of glint
and the scent of chlorine
Let them fill as wide as cloudless sky.
Let them carry and lift
across the tides,
and last as eternally as my memory
of your summer afternoon.

Tracy Koretsky is the author of Ropeless a 16-time award-winning novel that offers a fresh perspective on disability. See the in depth interview about Ropeless in this issue of Wordgathering. Koretsky has been a member of the editorial staff of the ezine Triplopia for the past year. More examples of her poetry may be found in its archives.