Hospital Through a Teleidoscope

CELESTE LIPKES

“They die in an instant, in the middle of the night; the people are shaken and they pass away. . .” — Job 34:20

In bed, I shake the world by turning glass.
I twist the plastic tube and shut one eye;
I watch the people break apart and pass

out of my lens. This is my morning mass —
mosaic glass, white nurses floating by.
In bed, I shake the world. By turning glass,

I split the mother’s dying son, the brass-
necked stethoscope, the doctor’s tucked-in tie.
I watch the people break apart and pass

my curtained room. I fill twelve test tubes, wineglass-
thin, with blood. I fast. I sleep. I lie
in bed. I shake. The world, by turning glass

to dust, will shatter what we thought would last.
The mother down the hall keeps screaming, “why?”
I watch the people break apart and pass

away. That night, the doctor cups my mass,
benign, like bread between his hands. I cry
in bed. I shake the world. By turning glass,
I watch the people break apart and pass.


Celeste Lipkes is a junior at Johns Hopkins University. Her poems have appeared in Smartish Pace and The Bellevue Literary Review. She is a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship from Hopkins, the Bellevue Literary Review’s 2009 Prize for Poetry, and a Davidson Fellowship in Literature.

First published in Measure, Volume 4, Issue 2 (2009)