In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Recovery, and: Fairy Tale: The Doctor, and: She Asks About Death, Then Draws, and: Recovery 3, and: The Day You Choose, and: Recovery 6: The Last Word
  • Jennifer Richter (bio)
  • Recovery
  • Jennifer Richter

Health means Nowhere to hide. For weeks you will fear the phone, the calendar, the life that, for seasons, sustained your pain. Your children will grab your hands and run you through the rooms you’ve missed; your husband will pat the sheets next to him and wait.

But here come the night nurses now, fresh back from the steel box that warms the blankets. Here comes one with her flashlight, eyeing the plastic bag hung above your head, following it down to your arm’s irritated site— this last night won’t hurt. When she shakes out the blanket she’s brought, one wing rushes through your room. You slide into your warm white tent. If you speak up, you’re not just talking to your body when you say Enough.

Recover means, of course, Cover again. Put on another layer. Even if the pain stays, it’s not exposed. Maybe you’ll quit being so cold. [End Page 98]

  • Fairy Tale: The Doctor
  • Jennifer Richter

You’ve been waiting your whole life for this man. Today you have been granted access. He has prepared this room for you. You hear him in the hall. You sit up straight. Last night you practiced what you’d say. In the end you expect a change. One door down he booms Knock knock who’s there I am: your doctor. To the stranger one door down he asks, How are we? Through the wall, the softer voice is either asking many questions, or pleading. You will wait your whole life for this man. There are often two versions of the same story. Here mice turn into footmen, wringing their hands. [End Page 99]

  • She Asks About Death, Then Draws
  • Jennifer Richter

You woke knowing you’d left her. You had fallen asleep reading to her, and you woke layered in paper. She’d lain herself on your legs, making drawings, whole bodies floating. A girl’s gone missing, plucked from your town close enough to the sea to sound like it: a rumbling hush of suspicion. Flash—a fish, and the pelican swooping. Your daughter knows that oceans explain what you can’t: depth, distance, diagnosis that drifts you too far out. You leave her, you leave her, and then one day you’ll leave her. When she asks each time you look her in the eye and lie. [End Page 100]

  • Recovery 3
  • Jennifer Richter

Now you can’t break down. The experts have sent you home. People are waiting for you. Tonight your husband pulls in the driveway, kills the engine, drops his hands to his lap and sits staring. When he finally comes to the door he’s like a relative that resembles him slightly. You take his coat, you feed him. You lead him to bed. You can’t break. Once on a trip your parents put your pillow in the backseat and said when the sky turned light you’d arrive. You woke. Night. The hood was open. The heater was silent. Your father: silent. When you set off, you didn’t expect to have to stop in the darkness. You never expected to stay there. [End Page 101]

  • The Day You Choose
  • Jennifer Richter

You sit in the back. A woman in the movie suffers; her demon is one you can see. You pick through your pills by the light of her scream. The woman has been begging for help since this started. By now, she’s alone. It’s your story. You could fill a theater with those who don’t get it. Two walk past you up the aisle. This has got to end soon, you think. Onscreen, the woman who wanted to die has changed her mind. [End Page 102]


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pp. 97-103
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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