Heather Treseler


On canes, in chrome chairs, or led by

hand they take their seats on this side

of Styx. One wears Cher-like shades

over a butterfly rash, another has fit

her limbs’ grimace into the pink

of a madras dress. Someone breathes

heavily in the corner. Your name

stands on a manila file by the door.

I take the empty seat beside you.




Named. So that we now approach

this beast as museum goers who

may look, look but do not touch

Egyptian treasure, the Dutch

master’s hairline intaglio. Or

botanists beside a Chernobyl

bloom: as if the hex or cure

were locked inside one glowing

bud, the pink fist of a phoneme.




Wounds are mouths in Kafka

speaking in German riddles across

a childhood bedroom where curtains

luff and sink in summer air. An ache

opens the voice of the body, calls

across ten states’ length of room.

My pillow hot with your fever,

my hands mumbling to your

hands’ bouquet of virus blisters.




"Diagnosis" first appeared in Harvard Review, Vol. 37.