A GULLAH WOMAN COMES TO CLINIC | Ethan Stonerook

 

See her alone
her hands, effluvial
gifts washed from Sierra Leone.
Hands received
from West African mothers, strength
epigenetically kneaded
into them while bearing
witness to grandmothers
work and weave baskets
purchased by white folks
along the black of high-way
seventeen meandering
in the low-country
Sargasso golden salt marsh.

See her Atlas of tendons
medial passing nerves,
veins with names;
Long Reach, Rockudundee,
Little Ogeechee. Look at her

today,
across the fluorescent procedure room
antithesis to the glorious
soil into which she presses
down seeds, presses smooth
the weightless white flour, kneads
in butter, milk, salt. I ask,

“What do you want, to want,
to do?”

See the brackish creeks
slowly glimmer down
her tannin cheeks,
“I got pints and pints
of bright red tomatoes
put up. I jus’ wanna make
vegetable soup.”


Ethan Stonerook is a native Floridian, fisherman, former ecologist, and physician assistant in bone marrow transplant at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Throughout his career in medicine he has used creative writing as a means to honor and memorialize patients and their families. He is particularly interested in the use of creative writing as a way to make meaning in the context of life limiting and altering illness. He is passionate about teaching and mentoring PA students. He is currently conducting a pilot project with staff and faculty at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Most importantly, Ethan is really excited about his role as a spouse and father. “A Gullah Woman comes to clinic” is his first published poem. 

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