Sophia at Twelve in the ICU

By E. Laura Golberg

Two ballet shoes on the floor

She was a sturdy ballerina,
    now she’s like the tiny
            white mushroom that grows

just above the grass,
    gills on top, open to every wind.
        Unlike me, her grandma, she still

has years to live. Should my breathing
    falter, that plastic V below my nose,
           would be more justified and proper

than for such a child. Kidneys, hip,
    blood, merely a list of components
            we all have, but hers are deluged

with infection. Fever, white cells spike,
    as she lies in the ICU. We can’t take her
           in our arms, protect that flushed face.

Instead, she’s embraced
    by tubes, in her flesh
           needles en pointe.

Category: Featured, Poetry