The medieval physician said it was in 
the spleen, Chinese medicine diagnoses 
liver, this leviathan that comes from 
deep within and threatens 

the life from which it springs. 
It moves to kidneys, gallbladder, 
spreading like an untreated cancer, 
to the pancreas, to the heart, 

to the brain. It’s as prevalent 
as breath, and I am both container and 
contained. It’s an opportunistic species,
this chronic visitor who smells like old fish. 

And it will kill.  Soft things now, and 
everything eventually. I don’t know how 
to treat the condition except to distance 
from the hotbeds, to look for those 

who are not infected and pray they 
inject an antidote of empathy in my 
veins. Or I listen to Deva Premal sing 
Hindu chants, or I read Mary Oliver,

or I walk, walk, walk the roads
and the trails and the meadows
until I have taken root
again in the soft earth of a 

forgiving mother who is so
near the end of her rope that 
any prodigal’s return is offered
the fatted calf of peace, and if I 

sit on a stump long enough and
stare at the water and stay as 
still as the heron in the distance,
I can feel the mending 
in my spleen. 

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved